20 December 2018
A review of the ways in which Jersey’s competition regulator handled an investigation into a fuel supplier has concluded that the case was appropriately managed. The report, by a specialist competition and regulatory barrister, found that the JCRA behaved ‘reasonably’ in its inquiry into a complaint against ATF Fuels two years ago.
In March 2016 the JCRA ruled that ATF Fuels had breached the competition law but, in an appeal in January this year, the Royal Court disagreed with the findings. A report was commissioned by the States to review the circumstances leading up to the JCRA’s decision concerning ATF Fuels.
Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, said that, while the JCRA are independent of the States, it was important to review the measures taken by the regulator and to ensure that the competition law was robust: “Government is focused on whether the competition system has worked properly and whether the regulator has used its powers reasonably,” he said. “The report found that the JCRA behaved appropriately in exercising its legal powers and meeting its duties. It also concluded that our competition law is well drafted.”
The report also recommended that the States review the appeals process so that the Royal Court could only overturn decisions made by the JCRA if they were found to have acted unreasonably. Another recommendation was for the States to commit to funding appeals so that the JCRA could investigate companies without fear of being unable to pay for court cases.
“A request for funding for appeals will be made under the next Medium Term Financial Plan,” said Senator Le Fondré.
Plans for a formal settlement procedure will also be considered as a result of the report, so that companies under investigation have clearer guidelines on how to avoid action being taken against them by the JCRA. The report also recommended that the JCRA record and explain how it makes its decisions to investigate companies, and work with the Ports of Jersey to clarify the ways in which licences are issued for port operators.