The Commerce Commission has spent nearly $1 million on legal fees for a price case against Australian-headquartered retailer Bunnings.
And it's not over yet.
Under the Official Information Act, the Herald sought information about the amount spent on the case so far.
The commission today released those details, revealing the hefty price it has paid in the five-year battle against the national DIY store with its big green sheds.
The commission announced it had spent $950,475.28 on the case to date.
Staff at the state watchdog had spent 1137 hours investigating the case and a further 1441 hours on litigation.
External legal services made up the lion's share of state money forked out. That cost $885,000 and travel nearly $3000.
Bunnings has pleaded not guilty to charges of misleading the public over its "lowest price guaranteed" campaigns.
The commission laid 45 charges against the DIY chain, alleging in court documents that a number of its slogans were liable to mislead the public into thinking its prices were the lowest on the market "when they were not".
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A commission spokesperson said today the case had been an extremely long-running one for the commission.
The investigation started in April 2015 and 45 charges were laid in December 2016.
"Since then the commission has been required to respond to pretrial matters raised by Bunnings," he said.
In May 2018, Bunnings' application for disclosure of documents was dismissed in the Auckland District Court.
In August 2018, the District Court ruled evidence from Mitre 10 admissible.
In September that same year, the High Court dismissed Bunnings' appeal against the District Court's disclosure decision.
In February last year, Bunnings sought leave to appeal the High Court's disclosure decision. That application was dismissed last March, the spokesman said.
Just before Christmas, the High Court dismissed Bunnings' application for judicial review of the District Court's decision regarding a summons of Mitre 10, and admissibility of information from Mitre 10.
In April this year, the High Court denied Bunnings' application to have the High Court's judgment recalled.
This month, the Court of Appeal heard appeals from Bunnings and the commission, of the December 2019 High Court judgment regarding the admissibility of Mitre 10 information, and Bunning's judicial review of the District Court's decision regarding a summons of Mitre 10.
The alleged offending took place between June 2014 and February 2015 and involved print, radio and television marketing campaigns, in-store signs, staff uniforms as well as its website.
Each of the 45 alleged offences is punishable by a fine of up to $600,000.
Bunnings NZ general manager Jacqui Coombes has said the company was "disappointed" with the regulator's decision to file charges, telling the Herald that its policy was backed up by "behind the scenes" business processes and procedures.
The company has continued to advertise in the usual way while the matter is played out in court.
"We disagree with the Commerce Commission's view of our lowest prices policy and will defend our highly competitive price guarantee. We would like to reassure customers that we will continue our lowest prices policy along with our comprehensive business processes and procedures operating behind the scenes to back this up," Coombes said three years ago of the case.
"We remain absolutely committed to creating more value for New Zealand consumers and believe in the right of all businesses to compete on price," Coombes said.
In one of the hearings this year, court documents shows Jack Hodder QC and Tim Lindsay representing Bunnings.
John Dixon QC acted for the commission, assisted by Ian Brookie of Sentinel Chambers.