The New Zealand Competition Authority releases guidelines on anticompetitive agreements temporarily allowed due to COVID-19

Commission releases guidelines on approach to authorisations after law change*

The Commerce Commission has released guidelines on its approach to authorisation of some agreements as a result of temporary changes made to the Commerce Act under the COVID-19 Response (Further Management Measures) Legislation Act (COVID-19 Response Act).

The Commission can grant authorisation for agreements between businesses or individuals that are anti-competitive but are otherwise in the public interest. The amendments to the COVID-19 Response Act allow the Commission to authorise cartel provisions, waive the $36,800 application fee, issue provisional authorisation, and to decide not to issue a draft determination before reaching a final decision.

Commission Chair, Anna Rawlings said, “We recognise that businesses may need to enter into agreements quickly as a result of the effects of COVID-19. The amendments enable us to better respond to the needs of businesses seeking legal certainty through the authorisation process where the agreement is in the public interest. This will help achieve the right balance between ensuring that businesses can enter into agreements that benefit New Zealand, while protecting consumers and competition in the market.”

“The guidelines that we have released today are designed to assist businesses and individuals by explaining when the Commission will use the new provisions. The guidelines are general in nature and we intend to take a pragmatic approach to any applications for authorisation that we receive. We encourage businesses thinking about applying for an authorisation to get in touch with us to discuss our approach and consider seeking independent legal advice,” Ms Rawlings said.

The guidelines are available on the Commission website.

The authorisation regime for mergers remains unaffected.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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New Zealand Competition Authority, The New Zealand Competition Authority releases guidelines on anticompetitive agreements temporarily allowed due to COVID-19, 29 May 2020, e-Competitions May 2020, Art. N° 95298

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