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Cartel criminalisation a done deal

April 11, 2019


Partners Anne Callinan, James Craig
Senior Associates Nina Blomfield

Competition law (inc cartels)

It has been under discussion for some time, but the final steps have been taken to criminalise cartel conduct and the Commerce (Criminalisation of Cartels) Amendment Act 2019 has now been given Royal Assent.

The new rules come into force on 8 April 2021, and will make it a criminal offence for a person to enter into a contract or arrangement, or arrive at an understanding, that contains a cartel provision. It will also be an offence to give effect to a cartel provision. In either case, the person must have intended to engage in that conduct. 

The stakes will become considerably higher, with penalties of up to seven years’ imprisonment or up to a $500,000 fine (or both) for individuals in breach.  Penalties for companies will remain the same at up to $10 million.

There is a defence if that person believed on reasonable grounds that one of the specified exceptions to cartel conduct applied ie it was a collaborative activity, a vertical supply contract or a joint buying or promotion agreement. However, the defence will not apply if the belief is based on ignorance, or mistake, of any matter of law.

For more information on cartel criminalisation, see our previous article here.

If you would like to discuss how these changes may impact your business, please get in touch with one of our experts.