The impact of competition regulation on business varies from sector to sector, but the need to stay on top of evolving legislative requirements is important for all industry groups.
Our competition lawyers have extensive experience advising on all facets of competition law, both in Australia and Europe, and act for clients in a wide range of industries.
We cover the lifecycle of competition law:
- developing and facilitating compliance programs
- advising on the competition impact of company action or the next step
- seeking merger clearance from the ACCC, notifying conduct to the ACCC, or seeking ACCC authorisation
- assisting with queries and investigations from the ACCC (including raids, searches, formal interviews)
- negotiating enforceable undertakings with the ACCC and seeking immunity for cartel informants, and
- bringing or defending competition claims in court.
Competition law can have a significant impact on access to essential infrastructure and we have assisted clients in resources, energy, mining and agribusiness in this area. A duplicate railway system, gas pipeline or port can’t be built for every new resources project, so competitors will want access to existing infrastructure.
We have the experience to assist you whether you are the owner or an existing user of infrastructure, or needing access to it. We have also dealt with the state-based regulators that operate in this space, including the Queensland Competition Authority.
A team approach - to tailored advice
We understand the ACCC’s powers and requirements and regularly advise Australian and overseas companies undertaking mergers, identifying whether the proposed transaction will need to be cleared by the ACCC and what potential concerns the ACCC may arrise. Reaching a view on this early is essential so you put your best foot forward from the beginning.
If you do need to seek clearance for the transaction from the ACCC, the process involves competitors, suppliers and customers having a say on what they think the impact of the merger will be. It can sometimes take several months. We have been there before, we are experts in assessing competition issues and can help you navigate this path.
A culture of compliance
Recent activity by the ACCC indicates a renewed focus and commitment to the detection and prosecution of cartels, which involve competitors agreeing to fix prices, divide up markets, limit production or rig bids. The penalties for such activity are serious and involve jail time for executives. There are some limited but important exceptions. We can help you understand what conduct is illegal and how to ensure your organisation has a culture of compliance so that your executives or staff do not get you in hot water, or worse.
Companies that are strong in their own markets need to take care to avoid conduct that might misuse their market power (or abuse their dominance). This can impact on their ability to refuse to supply competitors or open their discounting arrangements to scrutiny in case they involve predatory pricing.
We are also experienced experts in assessing the competition law implications of exclusivity clauses, distribution arrangements, non-competes and other contractual arrangements and whether they might risk being anti-competitive.
If we do identify a serious competition concern, we can assist you to seek authorisation of your conduct from the ACCC or (for cartels) immunity from prosecution if you are the first to confess.