Home Page / Current cases / ACCC v Colgate-Palmolive

ACCC v Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd & Ors

Federal Court of Australia, New South Wales Registry

This page is no longer being updated; please see full case page

File details

Applicant ACCC
Respondents Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd, Pz Cussons Australia Pty Ltd, Woolworths Ltd
Hearing date(s) 7 June - 6 July 2016
Judgement delivered 22 December 2017
Cussons Court held ACCC failed to discharge burden of proof in case against Cussons. Cussons was the only party to fully contest the case. Unilver was an immunity applicant and Colgate and Woolworths made admissions leading the penalties of $18m and $9m respectively in 2016.
Colgate admissions

In June Woolworths was ordered to pay penalties totalling $9m following admissions that it was 'knowingly concerned in the making of, and giving effect to, an understanding between Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd (Colgate), PZ Cussons Australia Pty Ltd (Cussons) and Unilever Australia Limited (Unilever) that they would each cease supplying standard concentrate laundry detergents to Woolworths in early 2009 and supply only ultra concentrates to Woolworths from that time.' See ACCC media release. See also John Durie, 'Woolworths admits cartel behaviour' (The Australian, 3 June 2016).

Earlier Colgate made admissions about conduct contravening the Act and, on 28 April 2016, was ordered to pay penalties totalling $18m plus a contribution toward the ACCC's costs. See media release.

Justice Jagot declared that Colgate had contravened s 45(2)(a)(ii) of the Trade Practices Act by entering into an understanding with Unilever 'containing a provision that they would share with each other confidential and commercially sensitive information relating to the price of their laundry detergent products ... which provision had the effect of controlling the price of laundry deterents supplied by Unilever in November 2008, within the meaning of section 45A(1)'. It was therefore deemed by section 45A to have had the puprpose,e ffect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition in the market for the 'wholesale supply of powdered and liquid laundry detergent products for domestic use ... within the meaning of section 45(2) of the Act'.

Just Jagot further declared that Colgate engaged in conduct in contravention of section 45(2)(b)(ii) by giving effect to the information sharing provision and that the third respondent, Paul Ansell, was 'directly or indirectly, knowingly concerned in or party to, and involved in' to contraventions by Colgate.

Colgate was ordered to pay the Cth pecuniary penalties totaling $18million, was ordered to update it complaince and education/training program and to maintain and administer the updated program for a period of three years. Mr Ansell was disqualified from managing corporations for a period of seven years.

Both Colgate and Ansell were also ordered to pay a contribution to the Applicant's costs ($450,000 and $75,000 respectively)

View judgment: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd (No 2) [2016] FCA 528 (16 May 2016)


Media and commentary