CCCS fines three businesses for engaging in bid rigging conduct.

CCCS fined three businesses for bid rigging in the provision of maintenance services for water features for the first time after offering the fast-track procedure.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS") issued an infringement decision against three businesses engaged in the provision of maintenance services for water features. CU Water Services, Crystalene Product (S) and Crystal Clear Contractor were fined approximately SD 420,000 for participating in bid-rigging conduct relating to tenders called for the provision of maintenance services for pools, ponds, etc.

This was the CCCS's second infringement decision on bid rigging this year and represents the CCCS's increasing scrutiny on this type of conduct. Notably, this was the first case the CCCS considered suitable for its 4-year-old Fast-Track Procedure, which provides reduction in financial penalties in exchange for admission of liability and cooperation. The Fast-Track Procedure was introduced by the CCCS to improve procedural efficiency and time/cost savings. In determining whether the Fast-Track Procedure is suitable, the CCCS will exercise its wide discretion in reviewing each case on a case-by-case basis. Businesses may benefit from discounts provided by both the Fast-Track Procedure and leniency regime, as seen in this decision.

Accordingly, businesses are reminded to implement competition compliance policies/practices, and regularly conduct competition compliance training/audits, to ensure that employees are well versed on the out-of-bounds markers surrounding competition law. The CCCS has also made it clear that it will take swift and decisive action against any party engaged in hard-core cartel conduct such as bid rigging, price fixing, market sharing and production control.

For more information, please refer to the CCCS's media release (see here).

Singapore introduces new licensing regime for point to point transport operators

Singapore also introduced a new licensing regime for street-hailing, ride-hailing and car-pooling services operators. On 30 October 2020, Singapore introduced its point-to-point transport regulatory framework ("P2P Framework"), which implements a licensing regime for operators of street-hailing, ride-hailing and car-pooling services. Under the P2P Framework, the Land Transport Authority ("LTA") and the Public Transport Council ("PTC") will have more regulatory oversight on these three sectors, using licensing conditions and standards. This, in turn, protects the interest of both P2P drivers and commuters.

To date, four operators have been provided licenses to operate ride-hail services with 3-year validities and one operator has been provided a provisional license with a 1-year validity period. Under the P2P Framework, licensees providing ride-hailing services are not allowed to enter into exclusive partnership agreements with drivers and are required to ensure that fares are transparent and clearly communicated to commuters. However, the LTA will make an exception for drivers who are directly employed by operators, as full-time employment is inherently exclusive to the employer.

Given the increased number of operators under the P2P Framework, the CCCS has decided to release Grab from the directions which it impose pursuant to the infringement decision against Grab and Uber dated 24 September 2018 relating to their merger. The directions in question involved the maintenance of Grab's pre-transaction pricing, pricing policies and product options, and the removal of exclusivity obligations between Grab and its drivers.

For more information, please refer CCCS's media release (see here).