Complaint from Whistl UK Limited in relation to the prices, terms and conditions on which Royal Mail plc is offering to provide access to certain letter delivery services

26 October 2018

Complainant: Whistl UK Limited (“Whistl”), formerly known as TNT Post UK Limited
Complaint against: Royal Mail plc (“Royal Mail”)
Case opened: 21 February 2014
Case closed: 14 August 2018
Issue: certain prices, terms and conditions offered by Royal Mail for access to certain letter delivery services (known as “D + 2 access”).
Relevant instrument:
Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 (‘the Act’) and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’) (abuse of a dominant position).

Update note – 26 October 2018

A non-confidential version of the Infringement Decision issued to Royal Mail on 14 August 2018 can now be found under related items.

Update note – 14 August 2018

Ofcom has today issued a Decision to Royal Mail setting out its finding that Royal Mail has infringed the Chapter II prohibition of the Competition Act 1998 and Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

For further information, see the accompanying press release here.

Ofcom will make available a public version of the Infringement Decision as soon as possible.

Update note – 28 July 2015

Ofcom has today issued a Statement of Objections to Royal Mail plc.

The Statement sets out Ofcom’s provisional view that Royal Mail breached competition law by engaging in conduct that amounted to unlawful discrimination against postal operators competing with Royal Mail in delivery.

Specifically, the Statement of Objections alleges that the changes to Royal Mail’s wholesale prices for bulk mail delivery services contained a differential in pricing which meant that, in practice, higher access prices would be charged to access customers that competed with Royal Mail in delivery than to those access customers that did not.

The Statement alleges that these higher access prices would act as a strong disincentive against entry into the delivery market, further increasing barriers to expansion for postal operators seeking to compete with Royal Mail in this market, and leading to a potential distortion of competition against the interests of consumers.

The Statement of Objections sent by Ofcom to Royal Mail states the facts on which Ofcom relies; the objections it has raised; the actions it proposes to take; and its reasons for proposing to take those actions. It represents one stage in Ofcom’s investigation, and no assumption should be made at this stage that there has been a breach of competition law.

Royal Mail can now make representations to Ofcom, which will be carefully considered before Ofcom takes a final decision.

On 30 June 2015 Royal Mail made a complaint to Ofcom’s Procedural Officer. The complaint was resolved on 9 July 2015 and a link will be provided to the Procedural Officer’s decision when it is published.

Update note – 16 June 2015

We intend to provide a copy of a provisional decision to Royal Mail in the first half of July 2015.

Update note – 9 January 2015

The investigation is ongoing and we aim to reach a provisional decision in spring 2015.

Update note – 2 December 2014

A State of Play meeting with Royal Mail has been arranged for 15 December 2014, following which we shall provide an update on the investigation.

Update note – 2 June 2014

We are continuing with our investigation of TNT’s complaint, including gathering and analysing information using our powers under the Competition Act 1998. We expect this phase of work to continue during summer 2014, and to inform consideration of whether and how to proceed further with the investigation ahead of reaching a provisional decision in autumn/winter 2014. We would aim to provide an updated indicative timetable when appropriate.

End of update note

Update note – 9 April 2014

As noted on 21 February 2014, following a complaint from TNT, Ofcom has decided to open an investigation in relation to certain prices, terms and conditions offered by Royal Mail for access to certain letter delivery services (known as “D + 2 access”). This follows announcements from Royal Mail in November 2013 and January 2014 of changes to these prices, terms and conditions
As set out in section 25 of the Act, Ofcom may conduct an investigation where there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that the Chapter II prohibition and/or the prohibition in Article 102 TFEU has been infringed. In addition to the Chapter II prohibition in the Act, Ofcom has the power to apply Article 102 TFEU in full.

Ofcom has decided to investigate the matters raised by TNT’s complaint under section 25 of the Act and will consider whether Royal Mail has abused a dominant position under UK and/or EU competition law.

In the initial phase of the investigation, we expect to gather further information using our powers under the Competition Act 1998.  Our initial analysis of this information will inform consideration of whether and how to proceed further with the investigation.

End of update note

Following a complaint from TNT, Ofcom has decided to open an investigation in relation to certain prices, terms and conditions offered by Royal Mail for access to certain letter delivery services (known as “D + 2 access”). This follows announcements from Royal Mail in November 2013 and January 2014 of changes to these prices, terms and conditions.

Ofcom will provide a further update in due course.

Case Leader: Ian Strawhorne (e-mail: ian.strawhorne@ofcom.org.uk)
Case Reference: CW/01122/01/14