Tough market conditions are a ripe environment for staff to be tempted to take measures to avoid having to compete to win business. Making sure you and your staff understand your competition law obligations, which now include criminal offences, is more important than ever.
Competitive markets promote innovation, lower prices, increase quality and choice and improve the efficiency of suppliers. But, there can be winners and losers among the companies competing. Knowing where the line is not to cross and knowing whether someone else has crossed a line that injures your company is essential, especially in tough market conditions.
Our team draws on its local experience as well as its in-depth European experience. From developing and facilitating compliance programs, to advising on the impact of company action or the next step, to notifying, seeking merger clearance or authorisation from the ACCC. We also assist with ACCC queries and investigations (including raids, searches and formal interviews), negotiate enforceable undertakings with the ACCC, seek immunity for cartel informants, and bring or defend competition claims in court.
We advise Australian and overseas companies undertaking mergers. We understand the ACCC’s powers and requirements. It remains critical to quickly understand their position as clearance can be lengthy given the process involves competitors, suppliers and customers all being able to comment on the merger’s impact.
With the ACCC’s renewed focus on cartels involving competitors agreeing to fix prices, divide up markets, limit production or rig bids, the penalties are serious and may involve jail time for executives. We help you understand what conduct is illegal and how to ensure your organisation remains compliant.
Companies, strong in their own markets, need to ensure their conduct does not misuse their market power or abuse their dominance. This can affect their ability to refuse to supply to competitors or lead to allegations that discounts are predatory pricing.
We also advise on the implications of exclusivity clauses, distribution arrangements, non-competes and other contractual arrangements and whether they might risk being anti-competitive.
We are experts on the complete range of consumer protection measures contained in the Australian Consumer Law, including misleading and deceptive conduct (including truth in advertising issues), unconscionable conduct and unfair contract terms, price display obligations, product quality, product safety and product liability, product recalls, product labelling (including country of origin labelling) and unfair sales practices such as harassment, scams and pyramid selling.
Blue Ribbon Rice
Advised on the acquisition of Blue Ribbon Rice by SunRice. We acted in the ACCC merger clearance review of a 2-to-1 merger,successfully arguing it was an acquisition of a failing firm.
Envirospheres Pty Ltd
Assisted Envirospheres to resist an exclusive dealing notification lodged by Coal Reuse relating to a 15 year exclusive contract with Stanwell for coal combustion products, and subsequently successfully lodged an exclusive dealing notification for Envirospheres for a similar arrangement.
Successfully obtained ACCC authorisation of an RACQ warranty repair program where independent motor repairers who are members of RACQ’s preferred providers program would honour each other’s repair warranties for RACQ members and charge each other a set amount for the repairs.
Telstra Corporation Ltd
Advised on the competition law implications of proposed wholesale mobile arrangements with various major mobile resellers.
Major natural foods producer
Advised on competition law claims against a competitor for misuse of market power arising out of aggressive market conduct.
Advised one of the world’s largest resource companies on allegations of cartel conduct from the ACCC.
Leading global food company
Assisted to secure ACCC clearance of a 3-to-2 merger without the ACCC issuing a statement of issues.
Major UK department store
Advised on requirements for operating an online store based overseas for Australian customers, including statutory guarantees and product safety requirements.
Advised major franchise operators on the impact of the unfair contract terms legislation on their franchise agreements with small business franchisees, and prepared appropriate changes to the franchise agreements to remove unfair terms.