Welcome to Australian Competition Law
Latest Competition Law News and Commentary
10 February 2016 - Australian Egg Corporation Ltd did not attempt to induce cartel arrangement: Federal Court
The Federal Court (Justice White) has found that Australian Egg Corp Ltd, Farm Pride Foods Ltd and Ironside Management Services Pty Ltd did not attempt to induce a cartel arrangement, as had been alleged by the ACCC. See ACCC media release. View judgment: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Australian Egg Corporation Limited  FCA 69.
5 February 2016 - Woolworths v Mitre 10
SMH reports that Woolworths has written to Mitre 10 reminding it of its competition law obligations after Mitre 10 invited several Home Timber & Hardware franchisees to its annual summit. See 'Woolworths threatens Mitre 10 with ACCC action' (SMH, 5 February 2015). See also Sue Mitchell, 'Former Woolworths chairman backs Mitre 10, Home merger' (SHM, 22 January 2016) and Sue Mitchell, 'Bunnings beats Masters in home war but it won't get any easier for independents' (AFR, 22 January 2016).
5 February 2016 - New deadlines for ACCC assessment of proposed Asciano Ltd acquisitions
The ACCC today set new indicative decision dates of 24 March for its consideration of the two proposed acquisitions of Asciano. The original proposed decision date for both proposed acquisitions was 18 February. See ACCC media release. See merger register (Qube consortium proposal) and merger register (Brookfield consortium proposal). See also Jenny Wiggins, 'ACCC delays ruling on Brookfield's, Qube's Asciano takeover bids until late March' (SMH, 5 February 2016), Andrew White, 'ACCC delays decision on Asciano takeover' (The Australian, 5 February 2016) and John Durie, 'New ACCC timetable for Asciano takeover angers Brookfield' (The Australian, 5 February 2016).
3 February 2016 - Australia's 'love affair with oligopolies'
Peter Strong (Executive Director of the Council of Small Business of Australia) has a piece in today's Smart Company arguing that Australia's 'love affair with oligopolies needs to end'. The item includes discussion of the misuse of market power provision, arguing that the 'big business lobby's' demands to retain the words take advantage in the provision suggest that 'the biggest businesses Australia has ever seen want to be protected from the law by making the law impossible to prosecute'. Strong calls for implementation of the Harper Review's recommendations. See Peter Strong, 'Why Australia’s love affair with oligopolies needs to end' (Smart Company, 3 February 2016).
1 February 2016 - Unconscionable conduct case under way
The ACCC's case against Woolworths' alleging unconscionable conduct is now underway in the Federal Court in Sydney. See Sue Mitchell, 'Woolworths' unconscionable conduct case kicks off in Federal Court' (SMH, 31 January 2016).
28 January 2016 - ACCC light on cartel conduct?
Today's Australian compares cartel penalties in Australia with a number of other jurisdictions. This follows the release of Allen & Overy's Global Cartel Enforcement Report. ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, points to fines being lower in Australia and renewed hopes that 'this year would see Australia's first conviction in a case of criminal cartel conduct'. See Leo Shanahan, 'Competition regulator ACCC "light on cartel conduct"' (The Australian, 28 January 2016). See also Felicity Nelson, 'A&O predicts growth in cartel prosecutions' (Lawyers Weekly, 27 January 2016).
24 January 2016 - ACCC reviewing Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller merger
The ACCC has launched a formal review of the proposed multi-billion dollar merger between these Anheuser Busch InBev and SABMiller. Submissions are due by 15 February. See merger register. See eg, John Durie, 'ACCC to formally investigate Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller merger' (The Australian, Business Review, 25 January 2016), Eli Greenblat, 'Inquiries brewing over beer merger (The Australian, Business REview, 26 January 2016) and Simon Evans, 'Froth around Corona to top ACCC's beer mega-merger review' (SMH, 25 January 2016).
18 January 2016 - Politics and the effects test
Former Labor competition minister, Craig Emerson has an opinion piece in today's AFR about the effects test: Craig Emerson, 'Effects test is all about the politics' (AFR, 18 January 2016).
18 January 2016 - King: Informed Sources settlement will 'empower petrol consumers'
Stephen King has an item in today's The Conversation on the Informed Sources settlement. See Stephen King, 'ACCC settlement will empower petrol consumers' (The Conversation, 18 January 2016).
12 January 2016 - More on the effects test
The AFR reports ACCC Chairman, Rod Sims, pushing for an effects test again (Misa Han, 'ACCC wants to curb oligopoly power' (AFR, 11 January 2016)) and former ACCC Chairman, Graeme Samuel and Wesfarmers chief executive, Richard Goyder, pushing against any change (Misa Han, 'Sims power push runs into trouble' (AFR, 12 January 2016) and Patrick Durkin, 'Goyder joins war over ACCC powers' (AFR, 13 January 2016)). See also 'Double-edged competition law' (AFR, 13 January 2016). Nothing new, but heating up with the latest consultation on misuse of market power laws currently underway (see Treasury consultation page)
11 January 2016 - Sims seeks second term
The AFR reports today that Rod Sims is seeking a second term as ACCC Chairman. See Misa Han, 'Busy Sims seeks second term' (AFR, 11 January 2016).
4 January 2016 - More on resolution of Informed Sources proceedings
Broede Carmody has an item on the resolution of the Informed Sources proceedings in today's Smart Company - see Broede Carmody, 'ACCC drops proceedings against petrol retailers for using price comparison site Informed Solutions' (Smart Company, 4 January 2016).
2 January 2016 - Petrol prices
Lots of media on petrol prices at the start of the year - see, for example, Gareth Hutchens, 'Consistency needed on petrol prices across our cities' (SMH, 2 January 2016).
23 December 2015 - ACCC resolved Informed Sources proceedings
The ACCC has resolved Federal Court proceedings it brought against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers after Informed Sources and the retailers agreed to make pricing information available to consumers at the same time the retailers receive it. The ACCC consented to Federal Court orders that proceedings be discontinued and that there be no order as to costs. See ACCC media release. See also Eli Greenblat, 'Woolworths able to keep using cheap fuel app and website after ACCC decision' (The Australian, 23 December 2015) and Michael Janda, 'Petrol price info live for motorists under deal between ACCC, retailers and Informed Sources' (ABC News, 24 December 2015).
Competition Policy Review (Harper)
Misuse of market power
The decision in CFMEU cast doubt on the ability of the ACCC to negotiate 'agreed penalties' with respondents to proceedings under the CCA; on 9 December 2015 the High Court overturned this decision with the result that parties may continue to negotiate and submit agreed penalties to the Court.
Cartels and agency arrangements
The 2013 arguably inconsistent outcomes in the ANZ and Flight Centre cases in 2013 led to some uncertainty about the circumstances in which agents may be considered in competition with their principals for purposes of the cartel laws. The appeal decisions in both cases were handed down on 31 July 2015.
Resale Price Maintenance
ACCC and Informed Sources
In 2014 the ACCC instituted proceedings against Informed Sources and several petrol retailers alleging contravention of s 45. In December 2016 the ACCC announced it had resolved these proceedings after Informed Sources and the retailers agreed to make pricing information available to consumers at the same time the retailers receive it.
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