- COVID and competition law: beware excessive pricing
- Merger control and public interest
- Protections for SMMEs and HDP firms
- Cartel conduct
- Competition in the digital economy
Introduction to Competition Law in South Africa
- On 1 September 2021, the current competition regime has been in place for 22 years.
- Three independent competition authorities with dedicated roles. Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition has the ability to "participate" in proceedings.
- Over the years there have been many significant amendments - 2019 introduced a number of further changes.
- The competition authorities are well established, well resourced and not afraid to use their powers.
- Three main policy instruments:
- Merger review;
- Investigations and prosecution of prohibited practices; and
- Market enquiries and proposals.
- Because the authorities are not afraid to use their powers, many cases are settled even though the legal case may not be very strong. This emboldens the authorities further
- The Competition Commission and Competition Tribunal tend to import a "greater public good" approach in enforcement activities. The Competition Appeal Court takes a stricter approach to the application of the legislation.
COVID and competition law: beware excessive pricing
- Measures to address "pandemic profiteering" i.e. excessive pricing on essential goods
- COVID matters prioritized and lots of settlement agreements with firms agreeing to pay fines
- Food price monitoring reports
- Block Exemptions (although also note non-COVID related exemption for sugar industry)
- COVID price gouging regulations (excessive pricing regulations, housed under the Competition Act's abuse of dominance provisions)
- Babelegi and Dis-Chem excessive pricing cases
- Excessive pricing assessment of price increases of dust masks by Babelegi (a supplier of industrial wear) and surgical masks by DisChem (a pharmacy chain) during February and March 2020.
- Price gouging rather a consumer protection issue rather than competition issue?
- Introduces the concept of temporary dominance - reliance on the ability to increase prices as evidence of dominance (market power).
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