New Zealand Commerce Commission’s legal battle with Bunnings Warehouse, over allegations that its “lowest prices” claims were misleading, has so far left the Commission with almost $1 million in costs over the four years of the battle.
Documents released under the Official Information Act show the Commerce Commission has to this point spent $960,000 on external legal fees and “expert services”. Staff have also contributed approximately 2500 hours on the case.
After a complaint from New Zealand co-operative rival Mitre 10 the Commerce Commission charged Bunnings with 45 offences. The charges alleged that Bunnings claims of “lowest prices” from June 2014 to February 2016 were false and misleading. The “false and misleading” slogans include “Lowest prices are just the beginning”, “Everything is at the lowest price guaranteed”, “Bunnings has the lowest price on everything you need”, and “We’ve got the widest range and the lowest prices”. Bunnings pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
Each offence has a fine of up to $600,000, which could total up to $27 million.
Bunnings appealed a decision by the Auckland District Court to allow Mitre 10 gathered price comparison evidence, this was dismissed by the High Court in April.
The Court of Appeal heard appeals from Bunnings this month and a Substantive hearing is set to commence on September 29.
Bunnings Warehouse has been slowly removing their price guarantee in Australia with the slogans removed from their stores.
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