The British Horseracing Board (BHB) is delighted to announce that the Court of Appeal has today completely overturned the High Court judgment obtained by At The Races which had found that BHB’s business practices in the supply of pre-race data constituted an abuse of a dominant position.
The Court of Appeal found that BHB’s business practices did not involve excessive or discriminatory pricing, nor did they amount to a refusal to supply and therefore were not abusive.
Commenting on the judgment, BHB Acting Chief Executive Chris Brand said:
“BHB’s commercial policy generated some £40m of net additional income for the sport over five years. Today’s judgment confirms emphatically that our pricing arrangements at the time covered by the judgment were fully justified. The position we have taken with regard to our commercial policy in the UK, Ireland and other overseas territories has also been completely vindicated.
“If left unchallenged, the first instance judgment would have had far-reaching implications beyond Racing, not least that organisations in a position similar to BHB’s would have effectively had their prices regulated by the courts.
“In taking this appeal, our aim has been to ensure that Racing can exploit its assets appropriately and that it is not hindered in any future efforts to seek new sources of revenue. Despite the recent welcome extension of the Levy as the sport’s principal means of funding, Racing must remain committed to exploring all options to improve its financial structure.
“The judgment also removes a potential complication from the smooth launch of the British Horseracing Authority. The resolution of the pension fund issue is now the final significant piece in that jigsaw and we continue our dialogue with the Pension Regulator to complete the task in hand.
“I would like to extend my thanks to Peter Roth QC, Junior Counsel Maya Lester, Sam Szlezinger and his colleagues at Denton Wilde Sapte, who acted for BHB on the Appeal together with Paul Renney, who provided vital continuity from the original case. Those BHB directors who saw the importance for Racing of appealing the original judgment now deserve the thanks of the sport. In this vein it is also appropriate to mention Greg Nichols, who whilst at BHB never wavered from his belief that the High Court decision should be appealed.
“Since At The Races was relaunched in June 2004, its clear aim has been to use at little or no cost the pre-race data supplied by BHB and it never made any attempt to put a sensible proposal to us. As a result, Racing’s governing body has had to devote significant time and resources to this case, all of which would have been better focused on working for the good of the sport. We’re pleased now to be able to put this behind us and do just that.”