The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
("ACCC") has recently released its
revised Compliance and Enforcement Policy, setting out the
ACCC's agenda for 2013.
Its priorities come under four main headings.
2013 COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT PRIORITIES
A major focus for the ACCC this year is consumer protection,
online consumer issues: in particular, online
competition and targeting fake testimonials and reviews;
telecommunications and energy: the ACCC will
continue to prosecute misleading claims such as those by Apple and
TPG, and increase regulation of door to door sales by energy
consumer guarantees: increasing awareness of
the new consumer guarantees, and prosecuting alleged
misrepresentations about statutory warranties and guarantees such
as those by Hewlett-Packard and Harvey norman;
credence claims: the ACCC is investigating
premium claims made by producers that consumers cannot test or
validate, in particular the food industry (such as 'free
MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
The ACCC is currently revising the Informal Merger Process
Guidelines which is likely to result in changes to
In assessing mergers and acquisitions, the ACCC has announced
that market concentration is a key consideration.
This year the ACCC will focus on acquisitions in the
supermarket, liquor and hardware sectors by the major supermarket
chains, and electricity generation (in light of potential
privatisation in NSW and QLD).
The ACCC has outlined four regulatory areas of focus in
Part IIIA: the Productivity Commission will
conduct an inquiry into the National Access Scheme, which was
designed to promote competition in markets which have natural
monopoly characteristics (eg electricity, pipelines and
NBN: establishing the regulatory framework
that will apply to the National Broadband Network via its Special
electricity regulation: proposed establishment
of a Consumer Challenge Panel within the Australian Energy
Regulator which aims to represent consumer interests in regulatory
decision making; and development of a national consumer advocacy
body for energy policy and regulatory development;
wheat code: following the amendments last year
to the Wheat Export Marketing Act to deregulate the wheat
export market, the ACCC is liaising with industry and government
regarding the development of a mandatory industry Code of Conduct
governing port access. The ACCC will be responsible for enforcing
This year, the ACCC will focus on anti-competitive and
unconscionable conduct that seeks to exploit or unfairly constrains
small businesses in the market place, including:
Collective bargaining: the ACCC will continue to facilitate
collective bargaining by suppliers;
Supermarket code: proposals to develop an industry code to
govern supply chain issues for the supermarket and grocery
industry, (however, it is unlikely one will be implemented in the
Franchising Code review: the Government is currently reviewing
the Franchising Code of Conduct, which is enforced by the
Overall, the ACCC has set out an ambitious agenda for 2013, in
line with its goals to:
maintain and promote competition and remedy market failure,
protect the interests and safety of consumers and support fair
trading in markets.
We will update you on any major developments as they occur.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The Sportscraft refunds and returns policy limitations went beyond consumer's rights under the Australian Consumer Law.
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