TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE successfully defended Liviko and its CEO Janek Kalvi against an allegation of price fixing and infringement of the cartel prohibition
Last Friday, ie on 1 July 2011, the Estonian Supreme Court delivered a judgment whereby it acquitted AS Liviko* and its CEO Janek Kalvi of the charges of price fixing and infringement of the cartel prohibition brought against them under § 400 of the Estonian Penal Code.
In a criminal indictment that was submitted to the court for adjudication at the end of 2009, Public Prosecutor’s Office accused Janek Kalvi and AS Liviko of having allegedly concluded an agreement with Igor Zavizion and OÜ Offex Group to fix the minimum retail price of a half-litre bottle of vodka at 59 kroons and 90 cents. AS Liviko and Janek Kalvi denied these charges of having ever entered into any agreement or having made any proposals to agree on the minimum price of a half-litre bottle of vodka throughout the criminal proceedings.
The Supreme Court eventually held that lower courts had based their judgments of conviction against Janek Kalvi and AS Liviko on assumptions, and not on evidence in support of the allegations, and failed to comply with a duty of thorough assessment of evidence and provide reasons for the judgment as well as to respect the principle of the presumption of innocence. Supreme Court thus acquitted Liviko and its CEO Janek Kalvi on all charges.
The defence team for Liviko and Janek Kalvi included Erki Kergandberg, head of TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE’s dispute resolution practice group, and Rene Frolov, head of the firm’s competition law practice in Estonia.
* Liviko AS, established in 1898, is a leading producer and wholesaler of alcoholic drinks in Estonia. In addition to a significant local presence it also exports a wide range of products to regional and global markets. Liviko has historically been strong in mostly high-quality strong spirits, but recently it has entered the market segment of low-alcohol beverages and also developed a strong import portfolio.