Summary of changes to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA)
There have been recent changes to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, which is the act that governs how businesses deal with their competitors, suppliers and customers. If you have a business or are interested in starting one, you should know what the changes mean and what impacts it may have on your business.
The changes are:
Definition of ‘competition’
Section 4 of the CCA has been amended to clarify that ‘competition’ includes competition from
goods and services that are capable of importation (as well as those actually imported).
Cartel conduct provisions
The cartel conduct provisions under the CCA have been confined to cartel conduct which affects competition in Australian markets. The joint venture exception in relation to cartels has also been amended to provide more certainty. It has been amended so that it:
- applies to arrangements or understandings (in addition to contracts), and to joint ventures for the acquisition of goods or services (in addition to the production or supply of goods or services);
- only applies to cartel provisions for the purposes of a joint venture and reasonably necessary for undertaking a joint venture, not apply where the joint venture has the purpose of substantially lessening competition;
- increases the standard of proof that a defendant must discharge to establish the relevant exceptions, on the balance of probabilities; and
- broadens the ‘output restriction’ purpose condition to refer to acquisition (in addition to production, capacity and supply), to address any gap due to repeal of exclusionary provisions.
Price signalling and concerted practices
The price signalling provisions in the CCA have been repealed and section 45 of the CCA has been extended to prohibit a corporation from engaging in a concerted practice that has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition
The maximum penalty for breaching secondary boycott provisions have been increased (this brings them into line with penalties for other breaches of competition law)
Third line forcing
Following the changes to the CCA, third line forcing will only be unlawful where it has the purpose, effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition.
Resale price maintenance
Corporations can now notify the ACCC about resale price maintenance conduct, rather than having to seek authority from the ACCC for such conduct. There is also an exemption from the
resale price maintenance prohibition for conduct between related bodies corporate.
ACCC power to obtain information, documents and evidence
The ACCC’s power to obtain information, documents and evidence under section 155 of the CCA is extended to cover investigations of alleged contraventions of court enforceable undertakings and merger authorisation.
If you would like a downloadable copy of the changes for future reference, just click the button below.