The ACCC has released its Compliance and Enforcement Priorities for 2020.
In addition to the 'usual suspects' in cartels and anti-competitive behaviour, the ACCC will target the following priority areas:
- Competition and consumer issues in the funeral services sector
- Competition and consumer issues relating to digital platforms
- Competition and consumer issues arising from the pricing and selling of essential services, with a focus on energy and telecommunications
- Misleading conduct in relation to the sale and promotion of food products, including health and nutritional claims, credence claims and country of origin
- Conduct affecting competition in the commercial construction sector, with a focus on large public and private projects and conduct impacting small business
- Ensuring that small businesses receive the protections of the competition and consumer laws, with a focus on the Franchising Code of Conduct
- Ensuring compliance with the Dairy Code of Conduct
- Empowering consumers and improving industry compliance with consumer guarantees, with a focus on high value goods such as motor vehicles and electrical and whitegoods
- Pursuing regulatory options to prevent injuries and deaths to children caused by button batteries
- Finalising the compulsory recall of vehicles with Takata airbags
In the last 12 months, the ACCC:
- has successfully seen a number of criminal cartel cases commenced by the CDPP (ANZ, Country Care, Vina Money and shipping lines);
- brought its first misuse of market power case under the new “effects” test (TasPorts);
- obtained enforceable undertakings from companies regarding the new “concerted practices” prohibition (ANZ Roofing, Ivy); and
- obtained the largest ever penalties ($26m with $56m repayment order) for breaches of consumer law (Empower).
With more money, resources and confidence, ACCC enforcement of the above issues is expected to intensify over the next 12 months.
As always, we recommend that organisations ensure their compliance programs are effective and up to date to minimise the risk of breaching competition and consumer law.