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Commerce Amendment Bill - New market studies power

March 28, 2018


Partners Anne Callinan, James Craig

Competition law (inc cartels)

Hon Kris Faafoi, Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs has today (28 March 2018) introduced a new Bill to Parliament, the Commerce Amendment Bill (Bill), proposing amendments to the Commerce Act 1986 (Act).

The main feature of the Bill is to enable the Commerce Commission (Commission) to undertake market studies (referred to in the Bill as ‘competition studies’) to gain an insight into markets where no immediate breaches of the Act are apparent. The Bill would allow the Commission to initiate studies, whereas the previous Government had considered a regime under which only the Minister could initiate a study. A full copy of the Bill is available here.

Other changes proposed in the Bill include:

  • Strengthening the Commission’s powers under the existing airport regulation regime; and
  • Amending the Commission’s alternative enforcement options by removing the existing cease and desist regime and empowering the Commission to accept enforceable undertakings when resolving enforcement cases under the Act.

The Bill is set down to have its first reading in the week starting 3 April 2018. In his official press release, Minister Faafoi has said: “I want the Commerce Commission to have more tools to protect consumers so I have asked officials to fast track this Bill to be operational by the end of 2018.” See his whole press release here.

This is the second Bill introduced by the Minister proposing changes to the Commerce Act, closely following his Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Bill, introduced in February, which proposes to criminalise cartel conduct, such as price fixing. See our earlier article on this development here.