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CDPP v The Country Care Group Pty Ltd & Ors

Federal Court of Australia, Victorian Registry

 

Overview

The case involves the first criminal cartel prosecution of individuals and the first involving a purely Australian corporation.

It is alleged that Country Care Group, its managing director and a former employee engaged in cartel conduct 'involving assistive technology products used in rehabilitation and aged care, including beds and mattresses, wheelchairs and walking frames'

The accused were committed to trial in the Federal Court on 13 March 2019. The first case management hearing was held on 19 March 2019. The trial is expected to take place over 6 weeks from 14 October 2019.

 

Federal Court

Pre-trial

Following committal the matter was filed in the Federal Court on 14 March 2019 (Order by a Committal Court - Section 23AB(1)(a) or (e) Federal Court of Australia Act 1975 filed by CDPP on 14 March 2019)

The first case management hearing was heard on 19 March 2019 before Justice Wigney (by video conference between Melbourne and Sydney). The Prosecutor was ordered to file and serve an Indictment by 14 May 2019. The matter was listed for a further Case Management Hearing at 9:30am on 2 July 2019.

Trial

At the first case management hearing Justice Wigney ordered that a trial be listed for hearing to commence on 14 October 2019 with an estimated duration of 6 weeks.

 

Committal: Magistrates' Court

The charges were first listed for mention before the Magistrates' Court of Victoria in Mildura on 14 March 2018. They were subsequently listed for committal in Melbourne Magistrates' Court.

Listed for Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 6 June 2018 at 9:30am

Accused: Robert Martin Hogan (Case #J10675774)
Accused: Cameron Harrison (Case #J10518584)
Accused: The County Care Group Pty Ltd (Case #J10677523)

Country care committal mentions postponed to 15 August at 10am

On 13 March 2019 the Country Care Group Pty Ltd, its Managing Director and a former employee were committed to stand an all of the cartel charges laid against them by the CDPP.

 

Charges

Criminal cartel proceedings were commenced on 15 February 2019.

According to the ACCC's media release:

[T]he charges relate to alleged cartel conduct involving assistive technology products used in rehabilitation and aged care, including beds and mattresses, wheelchairs and walking frames.' 

 

Media and commentary

ACCC media releases

Commentary

James Panichi

mlex's James Panichi has been following the proceedings closely, providing regular reports (including the odd podcast):

Reports

James Panichi, 'Country Care criminal-cartel prosecution could offer a road map for ANZ defense' (mlex, 11 March 2019)

Twitter















Podcasts

Podcast: Country Care cartel case resonates in Australia; New Zealand's draft privacy laws move forward
James Panichi and Laurel Henning (mlex, 14 March 2019)
'A landmark criminal-cartel prosecution in Australia, involving a rural medical-aid company called Country Care, is attracting attention among competition professionals for how prosecutors’ tactics may inform other criminal-cartel prosecutions, including one involving Deutsche Bank and Citigroup. Meanwhile, the New Zealand parliament published a new draft of a privacy overhaul, which would align the policy with Australian, but will it be enough to make the new laws successful at an international level? James Panichi and Laurel Henning discuss.' (includes discussion of immunity (or 'letters of comfort') in the cartel case.)

Other reporting