The High Court has dismissed a special leave application by Japanese company Yazaki Corporation to appeal the Full Federal Court’s decision ordering Yazaki to pay $46 million in penalties for cartel conduct.
Yazaki is a major international manufacturer which supplied wire harnesses to the Australian car manufacturing industry through its local subsidiary, Australian Arrow.
Yazaki had sought special leave to appeal against a decision handed down by the Full Federal Court in May 2018, which significantly increased the penalties imposed on Yazaki from $9.5 million to $46 million, the highest total penalties ever imposed under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The Court found that Yazaki and Australian Arrow had entered into and given effect to agreements with competitors which involved anti-competitive cartel conduct relating to the supply of wire harnesses used in the manufacture of Toyota Camrys.
“The High Court’s decision not to hear this appeal finalises this litigation and means the record penalties of $46 million imposed on Yazaki stand,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.
“Cartel behaviour, such as price fixing and market sharing, undermines competition and increases the prices for customers and taxpayers.”
“Only substantial penalties for breaches of competition laws, such as these penalties imposed on Yazaki, send the message to large corporations that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable and against the law,” Mr Sims said.
“Penalties imposed by the Courts should be sufficiently large to act as a strong deterrent against anti-competitive conduct, particularly when this conduct is engaged in by large national and multinational corporations.”
Wire harnesses are electrical systems that facilitate the distribution of power and send electrical signals to various components of a motor vehicle.
In December 2012, the ACCC launched proceedings against Yazaki and Australian Arrow.
In November 2015, the Federal Court found that, in 2003 and 2008, Yazaki made and gave effect to arrangements with a competitor, which included the coordination of quotes to Toyota for the supply of wire harnesses used in the manufacture of the Toyota Camry.
On 9 May 2017, Justice Besanko ordered Yazaki to pay penalties totalling $9.5 million.
On 30 May 2017, the ACCC lodged an appeal in relation to the penalties imposed. Yazaki cross appealed against the finding it had engaged in cartel conduct.
On 16 May 2018, the Full Federal Court ordered Yazaki to pay increased penalties of $46 million and dismissed Yazaki’s cross-appeal.