Lidl wins court action over allegedly flawed price comparison survey

Lidl claimed the methodology used in the survey, conducted by Grant Thornton, was flawed
Lidl wins court action over allegedly flawed price comparison survey

High Court reporters

Supermarket chain Lidl Ireland has won a High Court action that arose over what it claims was a flawed 2018 Aldi-commissioned price survey which put Lidl in second place.

Lidl claimed the methodology used in the survey, conducted by Grant Thornton, was flawed, and made a formal complaint to Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI), the regulatory body for chartered accountants.

An independent committee of the CAI had held that Grant Thornton had no case to answer.

Lidl claimed the committee's decision was legally flawed and ought to be quashed.

In a judgment Mr Justice Cian Ferriter agreed the decision challenged should be set aside and that the complaint should be remitted back for a fresh reconsideration by the committee.

Grant Thornton

The High Court heard that Aldi commissioned accountants Grant Thornton to carry out the survey in February 2018.

The results, which were published in the media, said on average Aldi was the cheaper retailer.

Lidl claimed the methodology of the survey was flawed because it did not, in several instances, compare like products with like products.

Lidl also claimed the Aldi prices were not "in-store" prices but came from a master list.

The survey compared an average shopping basket containing 62 items in Aldi, Lidl, Tesco,  SuperValu and Dunne's Stores.

Formal complaint

Lidl, represented by Feichin McDonagh SC with Keith Spencer Bl, claimed the survey results had called into question the independence, objectivity and professional integrity of Grant Thornton and it made a formal complaint to the CAI, the regulatory body for chartered accountants.

The CAI got a conduct committee to examine the complaint. Grant Thornton denied the claims and opposed the complaint.

The committee concluded that despite weaknesses in the methodology, the survey did not appear to be flawed to an extent that it would amount to poor professional performance on the part of Grant Thornton.

An independent review of the committee's decision found there was evidence the price survey had not compared like with like, it was claimed.

Following the review, the matter was sent back to the CAI committee for further consideration.

However, in 2020 the committee decided that Grant Thornton had no case to answer.

Lidl brought High Court judicial review proceedings against both the CAI and the Independent Review Committee of the CAI, aimed at setting aside the committee's decision.

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