Chester City Council v Arriva [2007] EWHC 1373 (Ch)

Judgment (about 58 pages) by Rimer J sitting in the Chancery Division of the High Court in London dismissing Chester City Council's claim against bus group Arriva for alleged predatory conduct connected to the planned privatisation of the municipal bus company ChesterBus.

The dismissal rests on a finding that the council had not established that Arriva held a dominant position. The council had not satisfied the judge that the relevant market was limited to local bus services, and its claimed geographic market was too widely drawn (to include Arriva depots far from Chester) and, in the judge's view, “wrong in principle”.

The judgment does not consider whether the conduct complained of might have been an abuse if Arriva had held a dominant position, although a review of the evidence on costs and revenues concludes that Arriva would “recover its direct costs, although not its total costs”.

The last two pages of the judgment demolish the evidence presented by the council to support its claim for damages.

The judge refused permission to appeal on the grounds that his decision was based on his analysis of factual matters (including eight expert reports on the question of market definition and dominance).

Update, 21 June 2007: Bus & Coach News article reporting that ChesterBus is being sold to FirstGroup plc and that Chester is pursuing the possibility of an appeal to the Court of Appeal. The main commercial benefit to Chester of a successful appeal would be to reduce its liability for litigation costs, said to amount to £2 million.

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under Article 82, Public transport, UK courts.

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