Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Australia - Allphones was fined AUD 45,000 for breaching undertakings on franchises

[cellular news] Australian phone retailer, Allphones has been fined AU$45,000 for contempt of orders following action by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The company has found to have breached undertakings given in 2008 as part of a long running dispute between the company and its franchisees, who operate their own retail stores under the Allphones brand names.

In 2006, the company started a policy of deliberately trying to ease out those franchisees that it felt were under performing by withholding stock and income while still requiring the stores to deposit their sales with Allphone's own banks so that their financial viability was threatened.

The Accc launched legal action against Allphone and secured a settlement in April 2010 that included AU$3 million in costs.

However, the court has now found that since October 2008, the company continued to withhold consent to the assignment of an Allphones franchise if the franchisee would not sign a deed releasing Allphones from liability.

The company also failed to give the ACCC 7 days' written notice of its intention to withhold consent to the assignment of an Allphones franchise on the basis that the new franchisee must enter into a new franchise agreement.

"This decision sends a clear message that the ACCC and the Court regard breaches of court orders very seriously," ACCC Chairman Graeme Samuel said today. "Those who act in contempt of court can expect to be vigorously pursued by the ACCC," Mr Samuel added.

Allphones acknowledged that its conduct was both wrongful and culpable, and apologised to the Court and franchisees. Allphones made joint recommendations with the ACCC to the court as to the appropriate fine.

Australian Mobile Phone Retailer Fined for Contempt of Court

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