Following today’s statement from the Channel Island Competition Regulation Authority (CICRA), regarding their decision not to appeal the recent Royal Court decision against them, ATF Fuels (ATF) has issued the following response from their Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Best:


‘We have read today’s media release from CICRA with some surprise. While we were confident that CICRA would not appeal the Royal Court’s decision, (given wording in the judgement against them was so clear), it is concerning that in their statement the organisation does not seem to take on board any lessons from the ruling made against them. In light of the feedback from the Royal Court, it was anticipated that CICRA would be announcing a radical and urgent overhaul of their organisation to address their many, publicly acknowledged failings, but they seem to be taking no accountability whatsoever.

We are not the only industry that feels this way; we are aware of a growing number of economically significant, professionally run and very frustrated businesses in other sectors who are now also considering action against CICRA. We urgently need this situation addressed to maintain the economic stability and corporate integrity of our island. While the Chief Minister has announced a review of CICRA, which we welcome, given this most recent comment we are concerned that the organisation is now at point of failure and that intervention is needed immediately.’

NOTES:

Please see below ATF’s response to each point contained within CICRA’s statement:

Point 1 – ‘In March 2016…(we) issued a decision that ATF Fuels (ATF) contravened the Competition (Jersey) Law 2005 by refusing to allow Aviation Beauport to purchase fuel…for the purpose of supplying their customers at Jersey airport.’

It is true that we refused to continue to supply Aviation Beauport aviation fuel for resale because they were representing themselves to their customers as a fuel supplier (which they aren’t) and the Ports of Jersey were unaware of this arrangement, which is highly inappropriate and also poses a risk to safety at the airport. It also meant that Aviation Beauport were charging their customers significant mark-ups. By refusing to participate in this non-transparent, and now officially deemed ‘unlawful’ arrangement, we in fact brought fuel prices down for consumers – which we understood was supposed to be CICRA’s remit.’

Point 2 – ‘This action by ATF then forced those customers to make their fuel purchase arrangements only with ATF. CICRA’s decision also found that ATF unfairly discriminated in its pricing of aviation fuel to Aviation Beauport.’

This action by us in fact enabled customers to purchase better quality fuel more cheaply and more safely, without an inappropriately high mark-up from Aviation Beauport. We did not discriminate against Aviation Beauport; we simply would not support them in misrepresenting themselves to consumers and in operating in a way unauthorised by the Ports of Jersey.’

Point 3 – ‘After giving the judgment serious consideration and reviewing the legal risks, CICRA has decided not to appeal the Royal Court decision. While there are important aspects of the judgment that merit an appeal, the legal costs (ultimately paid by the taxpayer) pose too high a risk should the appeal be unsuccessful. CICRA has therefore decided not to take the case further to the appeal court.’

Given that CICRA went to court to fight in favour of a decision that would have increased prices for Jersey consumers, and also would have enabled a nefarious arrangement to continue, it is good to know that they will now not take the matter further. The cost to the taxpayer in terms of the court case is one thing, but what also needs to be considered now is the cost to Jersey consumer, who have endured years of artificially high fuel prices due to the excessive throughput charges levied by Rubis as the sole owner and operator of the La Collette Terminal – a situation which was explicitly approved by CICRA.’

Point 4 – ‘In light of this judgment, CICRA will engage with policy makers to consider revisions to the competition law where appropriate to ensure it is better able to protect businesses and business sectors as it is tasked to do by the States of Jersey.’

In light of this judgement, we believe that CICRA should be announcing major changes to its operations and a review of expertise, experience and potential ethical conflicts of its board members and chief officers. The competition law is not the issue – it is the misapplication of it by the very organisation that should seek to uphold it.’

 

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