Big shots still to be fired by competition regulator in 2019
In the first half of the new financial year, on 13 September 2019, we will see the repeal of the intellectual property exemption in subsection 51(3) of the Competition and Consumer Act come into effect (see our article here). On 21 June 2019, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released draft guidelines for consultation. We encourage clients to consider their existing contracts and arrangements prior to the repeal taking effect to ensure they are not in breach of competition laws by way of their previous reliance on the exemption.
We also expect to see plenty of activity from the chief regulator, the ACCC in its priority areas including actions in respect of electrical and whitegoods products and customer loyalty programs. In February 2019, the ACCC announced it was closely examining the use of any personal data collected by schemes in the airline, retail and hospitality sectors, as well as whether the benefits promised were actually received and the competition issues around new entrants and the impact of such programs. We are yet to see the result of these investigations to date, and any outcomes are likely to be interesting in the world of 'big data' and the overlap of misleading and deceptive conduct with privacy laws.
The ACCC also aims to have two to three criminal cartel investigations come to conclusion and prosecutions commence each year. With increased budget support from the Government announced at the end of last year, the ACCC expected to see at least three significant cartel investigations referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) in 2019 for a decision on whether to prosecute, so we are likely to see more to be announced in the first half of this financial year.
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