RWE Renewables UK is pursuing a damages claim of £9.24 million against two Prysmian Group member companies under the Appeal Tribunal Rules 2015 of the UK’s Competition Act 1998. The Act is the current major source of competition law in the United Kingdom.
The damages cited are principally for overcharging of cable supplied to the Robin Rigg project, which consists of two wind farms located off the Solway Firth, Scotland, and subsequent financing and other costs.
The decision to claim follows a 2014 European Commission Decision implicating two Prysmian companies as being part of a cartel that had operated in the high voltage power cables sector between 18 February 1999 and 28 January 2009, and involved (i) the allocation of customers and territories, in that Japanese and Korean producers had agreed not to bid for European projects and vice versa; and (ii) the allocation of customers within Europe between European producers, in that only the appointed producer would bid, or bids would be agreed between producers in advance (ie by means of price fixing or the unlawful exchange of price information) to ensure that the appointed producer’s bid would be the lowest and the project would thereby be awarded to the producer allocated by the European cartel members.
The inter-array cables for Robin Rigg wind farm were supplied by Scanrope Subsea Cables, and the onshore cables by a Nexans group company, in each case following a tender process, but neither company was found to be a cartelist, nor did the claimants allege that they were. However Nexans Group was found to be party to the cartel; and it is separately contended that the effect of the cartel was to inflate the price paid for the inter-array cables above the level which would have prevailed had there been no cartel, by reducing the level of competition in the market as a whole, and for the tenders in question in particular.