On 19 September, Ofcom announced its provisional findings that the customer-sharing agreement between Royal Mail’s Parcelforce division and an online reseller of its business parcel delivery services, the SaleGroup trading as Despatch Bay, infringed UK and EU competition law.
In May 2018, Royal Mail had reported to the CMA under the latter’s leniency policy a customer-sharing arrangement between Parcelforce and Despatch Bay, whereby they had agreed not to offer parcel delivery services to each other’s business customers. Despatch Bay arranges deliveries for SME businesses by sourcing multiple parcel operators, rather than carrying out parcel deliveries itself.
The CMA then passed the matter to Ofcom, as a concurrent competition regulator and the regulator for postal services. Evidence showed that the companies had ‘implemented, monitored and enforced’ the customer-sharing agreement between August 2013 and May 2018 when Royal Mail approached the CMA for leniency.
Ofcom has confirmed that Royal Mail has been granted immunity under the CMA’s leniency policy (provided that it continues to co-operate fully throughout the investigation) and that Despatch Bay has agreed to settle the case and to accept a fine of £40,000.