Andrew: Janet, while I'm away,I'm handing over my cases to Sylvia. But I'd like to run through a couple of them with you so you've got the background too, just in case she has any problems.
Janet: Good thinking. Have you filled in a legal elements chart for her? It usually makes things a lot clearer.
A: Yeah. Here it is. It's mostly complete. I just need to fill in a few more facts and figures.
A: Right. Our client is Jupiter Electronics, a small retail chain they've been in business for twenty years. They sell radios, televisions, refrigerators and household appliances. Baker Retail is a chain of department stores. Appliance Zone is a national manufacturer, and Cool Places are their distributor. Jupiter Electronics is suing all of them. They're saying that BakerRetail and the manufacturers and distributor conspired among themselves either not to sell to our client or to do so only at discriminatory prices and highly unfavourable terms. Apparently, they told Jupiter earlier this year that they would sell TVs to him at twenty per cent over the price they were selling to other distributors, and they offered him refrigerators at forty per cent over the cost to others ... and they justified it on the basis that his chain is open twenty-four hours and that therefore he could sell the goods on at a higher price!
A: But fixing the prices at twenty and forty per cent over the cost to others is in breach of Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Act.
J: Yep, absolutely. Section 1 of Sherman makes any contract or conspiracy illegal if it's in restraint of trade, and Section 2 forbids monopolization of interstate commerce. Um, OK, more details. Our client's manager, James Hull, phoned the manufacturers, Appliance Zone, three times in the week of the twenty-fifth of May and spoke to the managing director, asking him to reconsider the position. Mr Hullal so called Cool Places five times in the week of the twenty-ninth ofJune for the same reason.
A: So, what are Baker Retail, Appliance Zone and CoolPlaces saying?
J: Well, their defence is that there are hundreds of other retailers selling the same and competing appliances in the same community. They are going to contend that the controversy is purely a private quarrel between our client and the chain of department stores, and that this does not amount to a 'public wrong' as is proscribed by the ShermanAct.
A: A private quarrel! That's ridiculous.
J: Exactly! The volume of the correspondence shows a lot more than a private quarrel. There are letters going back over five years on this. And the number ofletters and the tone and the language reinforce this. I mean, one letter states that our client 'is such a small merchant and his business is so small that if his business goes under, it will have no effect on the economy, and therefore the Competition Acts don't apply to him'!
A: Well, I suppose that's one argument! I suppose so! In addition to this, they all deny that they refused to supply Jupiter with the Zoony range. Um, as you know, this range is really big, and they sell it to other outlets in the community, but Jupiter says that they won't sell or supply to them. Jupiter has written about ten times asking them for terms and supplies of certain three-eight-oh models of TVs. The defence's lawyers are arguing that the public is not affected by all this, but we need to show that this is a type of public harm. The defendant has no defence, and this is a clear attempt to monopolize.
A: Well, the facts as you present them seem to point towards a conspiracy in restraint of trade, a combination of monopolizing or trying to monopolize interstate commerce, the creation of a monopoly and public harm, all forbidden by the ShermanAct.
J: Yes —I think our client has quite a good case, really.