Dunnes Stores has insisted it has broken no laws in relation to how it ran a price-advertising campaign in its stores.
Rival German discount giant Aldi has engaged in a “very Jesuitical exercise” in alleging a combination of banners, “bus stops”, and shelf-edge labels breached laws on comparative advertising, said Michael Howard, counsel for Dunnes.
Aldi was also wrong in arguing the burden of proof was on Dunnes, not Aldi, to back up claims of misleading or unlawful advertising, he claimed.
Mr Howard said he would produce in court a banner to support his claims Dunnes’ price campaign was not about making comparisons with Aldi but related to all its main competitors: Aldi, Lidl, SuperValu, and Tesco.
In considering Aldi’s claims, the court must take into account the common consumer experience and Dunnes denied that its campaign was likely to have confused customers, he added.
Mr Howard was outlining Dunnes’ defence to claims that the chain, on dates unknown and in October and November 2013, put up banners and labels in several stores across the country conveying the “completely misleading impression” that various Dunnes products were cheaper than equivalent Aldi products.
Aldi alleges Dunnes compared a series of products, including oranges, yoghurts, ketchup, and dog food, which were not comparable on grounds including the weights or quality differed. Inferior products were compared with Aldi products and objective differences were not drawn to the attention of customers, it is claimed.
Dunnes denies the claims and disputes the meanings Aldi attributes to various banners and shelf labels displayed in its stores.
Among Aldi’s claims is that banners in Dunnes wrongly conveyed to customers the prices of “family essential” products in Aldi were either matched or beaten every week in Dunnes’ stores.
Aldi made several complaints to Dunnes senior management, but that amounted to “playing handball against a haystack” for two years, Michael McDowell, for Aldi, said yesterday. It got no response whatsoever from Dunnes, he said. The primary aim of Aldi’s action was “to stop this from happening”, counsel said.
Aldi alleges the banners failed to comply with the Consumer Protection Act 2007 and the European Communities (Misleading and Comparative Advertising) Regulations 2007. Between October 2011 and 2012, Aldi claims it identified three instances where Dunnes used promotional material featuring Aldi marks which breached the relevant regulations.
The case, by Aldi Stores (Ireland) Ltd and German company Aldi GmbH & Co, continues.
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