On February 7 2011 the North Gauteng High Court heard a case in which wire manufacturer Agriwire, which is currently subject to a complaint investigation by the Competition Commission, challenged the commission's authority to grant corporate leniency to firms alleged to have contravened the Competition Act.

The commission's Corporate Leniency Policy allows the commission to grant immunity to those who 'blow the whistle' on cartel activity. Agriwire has claimed that the Corporate Leniency Policy is unlawful since it is alleged that the commission has no powers to grant leniency under the Competition Act.

The act has recently been amended expressly to allow the commission to grant leniency to whistleblowers, although this amendment is not yet in force and would not apply to cases that are currently before the Competition Tribunal.

Agriwire will also have to show that the High Court, and not the Competition Tribunal, has jurisdiction to hear the case. Many legal uncertainties may arise for cases in which the commission has previously granted leniency if Agriwire is successful in its challenge to the Corporate Leniency Policy. The High Court's judgment is awaited.

For further information on this topic please contact Janine Simpson at Webber Wentzel by telephone (+27 11 530 5000), fax (+27 11 530 5111) or email ([email protected]).