Safeway to sue ex-employees for price fixing

Safeway is to sue its former employees and directors seeking to recover competition law fines of around £11m from ex-employees and directors involved in the alleged breaches of price fixing of diary products. Safeway says that a handful of the ex-employees and directors were responsible for some of the infringing behaviour in that they had acted in breach of their contracts and duties to the company.

Safeway’s ex- employees and directors have tried to get the case thrown out of court on the basis that

it breached a basic legal principle, ‘ex turpi causa’ (someone who does something unlawful cannot sue someone else for the consequences of that action) but that court has given Safeway permission to continue with the case.

This appears to be the first known reported case in the English courts in which a company infringing competition law has sought to recover damages against former employees that it alleges committed the acts.

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