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Esso Petroleum V. Niad Notes

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ESSO PETROLEUM V. NIAD FACTS The claimant ("Esso") is the well known oil company. Amongst its other activities it sells motor fuels to the public through retail outlets owned by others. One such outlet was the Leyburn Service Station, Middleham Road, Leyburn, North Yorks, DL8 5EV. The owner of that site was and is the defendant Niad Ltd ("Niad"). On 10th June 1993 Niad entered into a five year solus agreement with Esso which took effect in December 1993. In due course Esso became concerned at the extent to which some of its competitors were eroding the volume and profitability of its business. In January 1996 it introduced a marketing scheme called "Pricewatch" of which the essential elements were: (1) Esso would carry out an extensive advertising and marketing campaign to the effect that the prices of fuel supplied to the motorist by its retailers were or were amongst the lowest. (2) To enable that result to be achieved Esso would set up and maintain a computerised telephone service called "Priceline" whereby daily in the morning its retailers would report on the prices being charged by some of its closest competitors and in the afternoon the retailers would ring again and receive notification of any consequential change in the prices, described as "recommended", which the retailer was obliged to implement and thereafter maintain. (3) To finance such competition the retailer was to receive a margin, variable in accordance with the prices then in force, deducted from the delivery price of the fuel and the benefit of a stock value compensation scheme designed to enable him to lower his prices immediately, not only from the next delivery of fuel to him. Pricewatch was explained to the retailers at seminars held in a number of locations on 15th and 16th January 1996. Mr Walton attended the seminar held at Warrington on 15th January. He signed a document ("the Pricewatch Agreement"), to which I shall refer in greater detail later, in which, on behalf of Niad, he undertook to implement and maintain the recommended prices notified to him by Priceline without delay. He did not do so. These proceedings were commenced by Esso in September 2000. Esso claims to be entitled to damages for breach of the contract with Niad it claims was made in January 1996. It quantifies its damage on the "expectation basis" as the profit it would have made on sales lost through Niad's failure to perform its obligation. In the

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