On 20 September 2013, the Malaysian Competition Commission (MyCC) gave notice to the Pan Malaysia Lorry Owners Association (PMLOA), its 11 members and 29 related lorry enterprises of its intention to issue interim measures to stop the parties from implementing an alleged price fix.
According to the MyCC, at a committee meeting on 7 September 2013, the PMLOA instructed its members to raise their prices by 15% in response to the Malaysian Government’s recent decision to cut certain fuel subsidies. The PMLOA announced its decision in the press, bringing it to the attention of the MyCC who commenced an investigation into the alleged conduct.
Section 35 of the Malaysian Competition Act allows the MyCC to take interim measures where it has reasonable grounds to believe that there is, or is likely to be, a breach of the Act, and if it considers that interim measures are necessary as a matter of urgency to prevent serious and irreparable economic damage occurring and protect the public interest. This power is similar to the ACCC’s ability to seek interim injunctions from the Federal Court under section 80 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth).
The interim measures proposed by the MyCC require the parties to suspend the effect of, and desist from acting in accordance with, the PMLOA’s decision. The PMLOA must not decide on any further increment or fixation, of the transportation charge, and the members of the PMLOA and the lorry enterprises must not implement the PMLOA’s decision.
The parties have seven working days to respond to the notices, following which the MyCC may decide to issue an interim measure in respect of the alleged conduct. Any such measure would remain in place until the earlier of the date the MyCC completes its investigation, or 12 months from the date the measure was given.
The MyCC has been cracking down on industry associations who facilitate anti-competitive conduct. Earlier this year, the Cameron Highlands Floriculturist Association (CHFA) was found to have engaged in price fixing. We blogged about the CHFA here and here.
The MyCC has also indicated its intention carefully scrutinise price hikes in the transport industry following the Government’s decision to cut fuel subsidies for evidence of anti-competitive behaviour.