Tuesday, May 26, 2015

RoRo Passenger and Freight Ferry Sea Battle Not Over Yet

CMA Appeal Turned Down but Other Legal Avenues Still Open
Shipping News Feature

UK – FRANCE – After the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) saw a victory for the ex SeaFrance workers of the Société Coopérative de Production de SeaFrance S.A. (SCOP) in the UK Court of Appeal last week, many must have thought that the battle to keep Eurotunnel’s MyFerryLink RoRo freight and passenger services open had been won by the operator. The 2 to 1 majority decision might well have ended the argument as to the legality of the service, yet it appears that the battle still might not yet be over.

In what has been seen as very much a UK vs France argument by many, the UK Court of Appeal seemed to have decreed that when Eurotunnel bought up the SeaFrance assets this did not constitute a merger and presumably the argument that one company, Eurotunnel, controls too high a percentage of cross Channel traffic, had also been lost. This has now been reinforced with the Court of Appeal refusing to allow the CMA to further appeal against last week’s decision.

Any such appeal however would be heard in the Supreme Court and the CMA has the right to request a new judgement from that organ. Considering the Court of Appeal had made its mind up on the matter so recently it was never particularly likely it would wish its judgement to be questioned by another Court.

Now the next move is firmly in the CMA’s own hands and in a statement to the Handy Shipping Guide spokesman Rory Taylor said that the CMA was considering carefully whether or not to make an appeal directly to the Supreme Court, so watch this space as there may well be some mileage left in a story which has its origins six years ago when SNCF, berated only this week for anti-competitive rail policies, first upset the workers of SeaFrance, at that time a subsidiary company of the French state transport group, with talk of compulsory redundancies before closing the company in 2012.