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Major Victory For Grab As Malaysian High Court Overturns Antitrust Fine

 |  July 9, 2023

In a major victory for e-hailing operator, Grab Holdings Inc, the Malaysian High Court has overturned the Malaysia Competition Commission’s (MyCC) proposed RM86. 77 million (€17.1 million) fine.

Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, of the High Court, rejected the proposed sanction on the grounds that the investigation by MyCC was insufficient and breached procedural rules. The court was in agreement with Grab’s assertion that the procured evidence was not sufficient to establish alleged abuse of their position.

MyCC had proposed the fine for Grab’s alleged breach of anti-monopoly laws and imposition of restrictive clauses on its drivers that prevented them from promoting other e-hailing services in their vehicles. MyCC had further asserted that Grab’s merger with Uber established the latter as the dominant player in the local e-hailing industry.

Read more: Grab To Appeal Malaysian High Court Over Antitrust Fine

Grab successfully challenged MyCC’s proposed fine by bringing the matter to court. During the process, Grab presented evidence to support its contention that the merger with Uber in fact increased competition in the ride-hailing industry. In rejecting MyCC’s claims, the Malaysian High Court ruled that the regulator had failed to prove Grab’s repetition of anti-competitive behaviours, and the fine imposed was deemed unreasonable.

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Justice Farid further stated, “I also hold that the need for Grab to exhaust the domestic inquiry process (by filing an appeal before MyCC’s Competition Appeal Tribunal) does not arise. The tribunal has no jurisdiction to deal with ‘proposed’ decisions.” Furthermore, Judge Wan Ahmad Farid of the Malaysian High Court commented, “I could not accept MyCC’s contention that the judicial review could hamper the regulator’s investigation into anti-competition practice.”

The ruling by the Malaysian High Court is a huge relief for Grab, as the financial impact of the proposed fine would have been immense. The decision sets a precedent for future cases involving alleged anti-competitive behavior by illustrating the importance of garnering sufficient evidence when making such claims.

The court did not, however, grant Grab’s claim for damages against MyCC as its decision to impose the fine was not driven by any evidence of bad faith. The court further ordered the regulator to pay the e-hailing operator RM20,000 in legal costs.