The ACCC has found that recent anti-Israel protests are not secondary boycotts.
In August 2011, the Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs asked the ACCC to investigate whether recent protests by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign breached the Competition and Consumer Act (“CCA”). Protesters had picketed the premises of the Max Brenner chain of chocolate shops as part of a campaign to boycott businesses with Israeli ownership and which carry on business with the Government of Israel.
The concern was that the protests amounted to secondary boycotts in breach of section 45D of the CCA, on the basis that they hindered a third person (the customers) from acquiring goods or services from a fourth person (the shops) for the purpose or with the effect of causing loss or damage to the business of the fourth person.
The ACCC considered that the protests did not contravene the CCA as they did not have the effect or likely effect of causing substantial loss or damage to the Max Brenner shops. The ACCC took into account the infrequent nature of the protests, their limited duration, and the difficulty in apportioning any revenue impact to this activity. The ACCC also noted the other powers that police may use to address the conduct, noting that Victoria Police has already charged a number of individuals.