Royal Mail is set to take its appeal against a record £50m fine – issued by Ofcom in 2018 for a serious breach of competition law – to the highest court in the land, having exhausted every other avenue.
The long-running saga dates back over seven years, and centres on whether Royal Mail abused a dominant position when it proposed to put up prices in January 2014, even though the new rates were never imposed.
At the time, Whistl (then TNT Post) had launched its own end-to-end service but Ofcom found that Royal Mail price rises meant any of its wholesale customers seeking to compete with it would have to pay higher prices in the remaining areas where it used Royal Mail for delivery.
As a result, Whistl suspended plans to extend delivery services to new parts of the country and eventually ditched end-to-end deliveries altogether. At the time, boss Nick Wells accused Royal Mail of trying to “strangle” the firm.
Royal Mail appealed against the fine to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, but this was rejected in November 2019. An appeal of that judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeal earlier this summer.
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “We are seeking permission to appeal this judgment to the Supreme Court.”
Whistl filed a damages claim against Royal Mail in the High Court in late 2018 over the issue but this is on hold until after the completion of the appeal process.
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