The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission rejected a settlement offer from the CFMMEU which would have resulted in the union accepting far more severe penalties than those eventually imposed by the Federal Court after a protracted trial.
In a judgement published yesterday, Federal Court Justice John Middleton gave his full, unredacted reasons for judgment in the high profile secondary boycott case.
The militant construction union was found to have waged an unlawful secondary boycott campaign against concrete supplier Boral at two Melbourne sites as part of a broader dispute with its industrial nemesis, Grocon.
Justice Middleton’s decision leaves tax payers to footi a hefty legal bill from the partially successfully action, after ordering the union pay just 40 per cent of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s costs
Explaining his decision on costs, the judge revealed that prior to the case going to trial, the union offered to pay $3 million in fines for a dozen contraventions of competition and consumer laws and accept an injunction which would have restrained the union from hindering Boral from delivering concrete for four years.
Instead, the ACCC rejected the offer and went to trial, where it succeeded in proving only two of the dozen alleged breaches against the union. The union was fined $1 million and the ACCC failed in an attempt to injunct it from interfering with Boral in the future.
Justice Middleton found it was not unreasonable for the ACCC to reject the settlement offer so close to trial.
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