The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill was enacted into law on 15 August 2017. With that bill enacted, businesses finally have the additional certainty of prohibitions that are better aligned with the equivalent Australian law and an exemption that is better targeted at efficiency-enhancing collaborations between competitors. Given that this law has been formulated and consulted on for a number of years, businesses are likely to regard this as a positive step towards having both a more fit-for-purpose exemption and legal certainty regarding the competition law regime going forward.
The bill makes a number of fundamental changes to the Commerce Act 1986:
- it expands the scope of the existing price-fixing prohibition to prohibit market allocation and output restriction arrangements between competitors. The expanded prohibition will be known as the cartel prohibition.
- it introduces new exemptions to the cartel prohibition – namely, a new exemption for collaborative activities (to replace the existing joint-venture exemption) and a new exemption for cartel provisions that are included in vertical supply contracts (where certain requirements are met).
The bill also makes a number of other changes to the Commerce Act, including the introduction of:
- a new exemption for international liner shipping; and
- an additional process for the Commerce Commission and private litigants to seek remedies in respect of business acquisitions by overseas persons.
The full text of the bill can be accessed here.
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