The Reykjavík District Court this morning cancelled competition authority fines against the Icelandic oil companies for collusion and price fixing. The ruling means the state will have to refund the firms ISK 1.5 billion, plus interest and inflation adjustment.
The ruling was made at 11.00 and afterwards the state defence lawyer told reporters that it will very likely be appealed to the Supreme Court; but that he needs to go carefully over the details of the ruling before deciding.
The fines in question were placed by the competition authority against the oil companies on 28th January 2005 and amounted to ISK 1.505 billion krónur. That amount today, when adjusted for inflation, has jumped to ISK 2.459 billion krónur (EUR 14.77 million). Interest payments will be added to that figure.
The case brought by the oil companies started in court around 1st March; but the case has its roots in 1997, when the competition authority reported the companies for collusion on pricing. Investigation into the case ended in 2004, RÚV reports.
The conclusion of the investigation was that the oil companies Ker, Olíuverslun Íslands and Skeljungur had extensively and regularly consulted one another on pricing, market share and the making of offers.
The companies appealed, but the appeals committee of the competition authority rejected it. The oil companies then decided to pursue the competition authority and the Icelandic state through the courts. Now, seven years later, the decision has finally gone their way.