INTERNATIONAL: AUSTRALIA – COMPETITION POLICY – REFORM

Australia: Are proposed reforms a step in the right direction?

Australia’s competition regime has undergone few reforms that could be characterised as being as substantial as those proposed by the Competition Policy Review. The Competition Policy Review’s Final Report was released on 31 March 2015, and suggested a number of sweeping reforms to Australia’s competition law regime. The breadth of proposed reforms could materially alter the scope of conduct that could be caught by, or subject to, Australia’s competition laws in addition to potentially improving agency accountability and transparency in respect of merger review processes. This article seeks to provide an overview of the fundamental aspects of Australia’s competition law regime that are likely to be of interest to international practitioners—namely prohibitions relating to anticompetitive agreements, Australia’s merger control regime, and abusive unilateral conduct; and to canvass the key reforms outlined in the Competition Policy Review’s Final Report affecting these aspects of Australia’s competition law regime. Finally, the article will consider whether the proposed reforms achieve the right balance between effective deterrence without stifling legitimate business conduct and whether the proposed reforms promote consistency with best practice in other leading competition law jurisdictions.

[1] I. Introduction 1. Following the announcement and release of the terms of reference for a review of Australian competition policy on 27 March 2014, Australia’s competition law regime underwent a wide ranging and significant review. The Competition Policy Review (“CPR”) was commissioned with the aim of ensuring that appropriate legislative and policy frameworks that are in place to promote Australia’s long-term productivity growth are, and continue to be, fit for purpose. 2. The CPR Final Report was released on 31 March 2015, and suggested a number of sweeping reforms to Australian competition law, as well as competition policy and relevant institutions more broadly. 3. On 24 November 2015, the Australian Treasurer released the Australian Government’s response to the CPR. Of note,

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Authors

  • Clifford Chance (Sydney)
  • Clifford Chance (Sydney)

Quotation

Dave Poddar, Mark Grime, Australia: Are proposed reforms a step in the right direction?, May 2016, Concurrences Review N° 2-2016, Art. N° 78513, pp. 250-258

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