New Zealand Law Society - Commission files proceedings against alleged horse transport cartel

Commission files proceedings against alleged horse transport cartel

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The Commerce Commission says it has filed High Court proceedings against the International Racehorse Transport New Zealand Partnership (IRT Partnership) for alleged price fixing in the provision of services for equine air freight.

A statement by the Commission says that, in May 1989, IRT Partnership formed a joint venture with a competitor for the purpose of providing trans-Tasman equine airfreight services. The original agreement included a pricing structure for the provision of services, which they had previously been in competition for, and a profit-sharing clause. Those arrangements remained in place until October 2018, during which time key details, including pricing rates, were re-negotiated and updated.

The Commission alleges that the agreement between IRT Partnership and its competitor to set retail prices amounted to cartel conduct in breach of the Commerce Act. Specifically, the Commission alleges that the agreement provided for the fixing, controlling and maintaining of the retail prices to be quoted and charged, and the size of discounts that could be given, for equine airfreight services.

IRT Partnership is a firm trading in partnership, of which the current partners are Auckland-based International Racehorse Transport (NZ) Ltd and Cole IRT Ltd. IRT Partnership is one of the largest equine freighters in New Zealand with a significant market share.

IRT Partnership’s services involve all facets of the logistical arrangements for the movement of horses by air, from origin to destination. This includes booking charter or scheduled flights, providing for horse welfare on planes, organising vet checks and assisting with tax payments, customs charges and any other requirements of destination countries.