Competition & Regulatory

Competition & Regulatory

Competition & Regulatory

Competition and consumer protection laws and their enforcement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) impact many major business activities. Mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, infrastructure investments, supply and distribution arrangements and marketing initiatives may all raise competition and industry regulation issues.

Multinational businesses also need to be aware of the important differences between Australian competition and ‘antitrust’ laws and those in other jurisdictions.

Getting the right advice can make the difference between a successful deal and a considerable liability, cost or delay. We work with our clients to achieve their business goals, ensuring we minimise delays, manage associated regulatory risks, and, of course, get the deal through. We also bring our strong relationships and real insight into ACCC practices and procedures to the table.

Our Thinking

Is Australia’s ‘fragmented’ approach to intellectual property about to end?

How far will the government go when it comes to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on intellectual property?

More

A trust-busting wind is blowing

Australian regulators and policy makers must be wary of the growing pressure for more interventionist competition policies. Failure to maintain a dispassionate, economically rigorous approach could have dire consequences for the economy.

More

10 ways Japanese investors can enhance Australia’s transport sector

Corrs was a guest of the Embassy of Japan at the Second Japan-Australia Infrastructure Networking Meeting in Canberra in 2017. So, where can Japanese investors add value?

More

New Country of Origin Amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)

New amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), which simplify the country of origin labelling regime and provide clarity to businesses about their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law, are now in effect.

More

A new focus on genetically modified organisms in Queensland: changes to gene technology laws aim for consistency and flexibility

How have Queensland’s gene technology laws changed?

More

The Drone Age: not even the sky is the limit for this changing regulatory landscape

The regulatory framework for drones is complex and is under review. Where to next for these flights of fancy?

More

Insider Trading: What can we learn from Australia's first corporate penalty?

Key lessons following the first civil penalty for a corporation’s insider trading.

More

What could the new Whistleblower regime look like and how will it affect your organisation?

How will changes to the whistleblower regime affect your day-to-day business operations, risk management and compliance procedures?

More

Productivity Commission: Time’s up for the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation

The Productivity Commission raises serious questions about the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation.

More

Six points to keep in mind if your contracts contain automatic renewal terms

Automatic renewal terms are now in the sights of the ACCC, under new laws which extend the unfair contract term provisions of the Australian Consumer Law to small business contracts.

More

Use it or lose it – Government to repeal Competition Notice regime

The ACCC will be more reliant on the courts to enforce competition law in the telecommunications sector.

More

Commercially Sensitive: Confidential meets Open Justice

How can you protect commercially sensitive information when it’s being tendered in evidence?

More

Keeper at the gate: Regulator targets a range of transgressions in financial services

ASIC’s half term enforcement report shows the regulator’s intent to ensure financial institutions and advisers comply with their obligations, lifting the standards of financial advice providers.

More

Government releases exposure draft amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)

Federal Government moves a step closer to implementing the Harper Review recommendations in competition law.

More Download

Pipeline regulation in Australia: Is it broken or just misunderstood?

Since April 2016, when the ACCC published its findings in the East Coast Gas Inquiry, the media has been abuzz with discussion about whether the existing regulatory regime for pipelines is effective.

More

Must try harder: ASIC’s Half Term Report Card

ASIC’s report on enforcement outcomes for the first part of 2016 reveals a rise in criminal charges and infringement notices.

More

Is Toll and Sea Swift the exception or a new normal?

On 1 July 2016, the Australian Competition Tribunal granted Sea Swift Pty Limited authorisation to acquire Toll Marine Logistics Australia’s marine freight operations in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland.

More

The New Insider Trading Trend: Harsher Penalties and Greater Risks for Businesses – Part Two

By pursuing recent high profile cases against Richard Kamay, Steven Xiao and Oliver Curtis, ASIC has shown that it will prosecute those who have engaged or been involved in insider trading. What does this mean for you and your business?

More

The New Insider Trading Trend: Harsher Penalties and Greater Risks for Businesses – Part One

By pursuing recent high profile cases against Richard Kamay, Steven Xiao and Oliver Curtis, ASIC has shown that it will prosecute those who have engaged or been involved in insider trading.

More

The National Access Regime Still Has Teeth

The Australian Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) decided that the shipping channel and wharfage service (the Wharfside Service) at the Port of Newcastle (Port) should be declared under Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 20

More

Big Brother is watching! Covert government and corporate regulator hacking in Australia

This article focuses on recent legislative developments regarding covert hacking in Australia that your organisation needs to be aware of, and also touches on some new legislative approaches being adopted in the USA.

More

What does Glencore’s Tribunal application mean for infrastructure investors?

Perhaps hoping to emulate Tigerair’s 2014 success in obtaining greater leverage in commercial negotiations, Glencore lodged an application with the National Competition Council (NCC) for declaration of channel shipping services at the Port of Newcast

More

ACCC FAD sees dramatic price cuts for declared services

On 21 April 2016, the ACCC’s released its FAD setting out price and non-price terms and conditions for the DTCS. The new FAD sets pricing significantly lower than the previous FAD, with some reductions close to 80%.

More

ASIC’s Christmas Came Early – More Funding, More Powers and Industry Pays

20 April 2016 was a big day for ASIC.

More

Businesses Beware – are you caught by the Australian Consumer Law? Implications of the ACCC v Valve decision

Online and international businesses should consider whether they are subject to the ACL and amend their customer agreements to ensure compliance.

More

Merchants beware: ACCC given powers to stop excessive surcharging

With the recent amendment to the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2010, the ACCC has been given the power to take action where merchants charge customers excessive surcharges for paying for goods and services with credit or debit cards.

More

Self incrimination, regulators and commissions – do I really have to answer that question? Part 2

This is our second article in this series. In this article we consider who can receive or make use of the transcript of a compulsory examination – including third parties – and the protections available to a person pleading a defence in court proceed

More

Self incrimination, regulators and commissions – do I really have to answer that question?

This is the first in a two-part series covering some of the issues arising from compulsory examinations, the privileges that may be available to a person being examined, and how the answers can be used.

More

Small business, consumer protection, agriculture and excessive credit card surcharges: the ACCC’s enforcement priorities for 2016

On 23 February 2016, Rod Sims launched the 2016 ACCC Compliance and Enforcement Policy. The ACCC has identified new enforcement priorities that include enforcement actions against large businesses, consumer guarantees and agriculture.

More

Competition Review: January 2016

This issue includes the ACCC action against Woolworths for unconscionable conduct towards suppliers, recent penalties for false or misleading representations, and undertakings from BP, Caltex, Woolworths, 7-Eleven and Informed Sources.

More

ACCC and competition between ports

The ACCC has clearly signalled its preference that State Governments protect opportunities for competition between spatially proximate port facilities in the context of privatisation. This article explores some of the difficulties experienced with t

More

Competition Review: December 2015

This issue includes the Federal Court decision on Jetstar and Virgin Australia ‘drip pricing’, ACCC’s concerns with the Iron Mountain proposed acquisition of Recall Holdings, as well as updates on the ihail and Sea Swift authorisations.

More

Federal government releases its response to the Harper Competition Policy Review

The government’s recent response to the Harper Review is generally supportive, and recognises the potential for significant gains arising from improvements to our national competition law and policy.

More

Telstra takes on the ACCC’s access pricing determination

With $120 million in annual revenue at stake, Telstra is fighting a forced reduction to its wholesale prices.

More

Competition Review: November 2015

This issue includes the ACCC’s concerns with the Foxtel / Ten proposed acquisitions, as well as Brookfield’s proposed acquisition of Asciano.

More

Truth in advertising and labelling: The regulator’s perspective on what you can and can’t say

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released two new guides, the Advertising and selling guide and Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law.

More

Root and branch competition policy review - What does it mean for infrastructure?

On 27 March 2014 the government released the terms of reference for its root and branch competition policy review and revealed the composition of the review panel.

More

Is authorisation the answer: AGL has another go

On 4 March 2014 the ACCC published its decision to oppose AGL Energy Limited’s proposed acquisition of Macquarie Generation.

More

Federal Court fines Flight Centre $11 million for attempted price fixing

On 6 December 2013, Justice Logan of the Federal Court found that Flight Centre Travel Group Limited had engaged in six contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

More

‘Root and branch’ review underway - Terms of reference released and review panel appointed

The ACCC has announced the review panel and released the terms of reference for the independent ‘root and branch’ review of the Competition and Consumer Act.

More

AGL fails to acquire MacGen: Where to now for the sale of generation assets in NSW and Queensland?

On 4 March 2014, the ACCC published its decision to oppose AGL Energy Limited’s proposed acquisition of Macquarie Generation.

More

Generic pharmaceuticals and competition law: The ACCC vs Pfizer proceedings

The ACCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd.

More

Is the access regime worth keeping? The productivity commission says ‘yes’

On 11 February 2014, the Productivity Commission released its report into the effectiveness of the national access regime in Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

More

High Court reinstates $2 million penalty against TPG

The High Court’s decision against TPG reinforces that businesses must take great care when using a “dominant message” advertising strategy, or risk being subject to significant penalties.

More

Renewed focus on dual-price advertising

The Federal Court’s decision against Zamel’s reinforces that business must take caution when utilising a dual-price advertising strategy, or risk being subject to significant penalties.

More

Buy in from retailers and suppliers on a draft voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct

On 18 November 2013, after more than 18 months of negotiation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) reached agreement with Coles and Woolworths on the terms of a proposed food and grocery code of conduct (Code).

More

Federal Court considers the scope of carriers’ access and installation powers contained in the Telecommunucations Act

On 16 May 2013, Justice Tracey, in the Federal Court, handed down his decision in Pipe Networks Pty Ltd v Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, a case relating to the construction of Schedules 1 and 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

More Download

ACCC wins Lux unconscionable conduct appeal

In a significant decision with implications for all businesses, the Full Federal Court has allowed an appeal by the ACCC in its case against Lux Distributors Pty Ltd, a seller of vacuum cleaners.

More

IT pricing and the 'Australia Tax'

A recent parliamentary committee report on IT pricing found that Australians generally pay more for IT products such as software, games, music, movies and e-books than customers in many overseas markets.

More

Government aims to increase protection for franchisees

The Australian Government has released a report containing 18 recommendations following a review of the Franchising Code of Conduct.

More

Unfair contract terms protection extended to general insurance contracts

As foreshadowed in December 2012, the Government has released draft legislation to extend the unfair contract terms regime to general insurance contracts.

More

Full Court reduces penalty against TPG from $2 million to $50,000

TPG Internet Pty Ltd v Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (No 2) [2013] FCAFC 37.

More

ACCC announces outcome of unfair contract terms review - Next step: Enforcement

The ACCC has identified a wide variety of problematic terms in standard form consumer contracts that it considers may amount to unfair contract terms.

More

Proposed media reforms

Contained in six different Bills, the legislation comprises the Government’s response to the Convergence Review and the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (the Finkelstein Report).

More

Business beware: The ACCC renews its commitment to enforcement

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released the “ACCC Compliance and Enforcement Policy” for 2013.

More

The High Court clarifies the role of search engine providers in publishing advertisements

The High Court has allowed an appeal by Google Inc, finding that Google did not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct in publishing advertiser sponsored links that were misleading or deceptive.

More

Access just got easier: The High Court redefines reviews under Part IIIA

On 14 September 2012, the High Court handed down its decision in the Pilbara rail access case.

More

ACCC v Google - Competitors’ names, sponsored links and who is in control?

On 3 April 2012, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia delivered a landmark decision in the long running proceedings between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Google Inc.

More Download

Announced changes to the Australian General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)

The government’s action is in direct response to concerns about recent court losses suffered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in seeking to apply the GAAR to transactions or arrangements entered into by some of Australia’s largest taxpayers.

More

Our Thinking

Is Australia’s ‘fragmented’ approach to intellectual property about to end?

How far will the government go when it comes to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on intellectual property?

A trust-busting wind is blowing

Australian regulators and policy makers must be wary of the growing pressure for more interventionist competition policies. Failure to maintain a dispassionate, economically rigorous approach could have dire consequences for the economy.

10 ways Japanese investors can enhance Australia’s transport sector

Corrs was a guest of the Embassy of Japan at the Second Japan-Australia Infrastructure Networking Meeting in Canberra in 2017. So, where can Japanese investors add value?

New Country of Origin Amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)

New amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), which simplify the country of origin labelling regime and provide clarity to businesses about their responsibilities under the Australian Consumer Law, are now in effect.

A new focus on genetically modified organisms in Queensland: changes to gene technology laws aim for consistency and flexibility

How have Queensland’s gene technology laws changed?

The Drone Age: not even the sky is the limit for this changing regulatory landscape

The regulatory framework for drones is complex and is under review. Where to next for these flights of fancy?

Insider Trading: What can we learn from Australia's first corporate penalty?

Key lessons following the first civil penalty for a corporation’s insider trading.

What could the new Whistleblower regime look like and how will it affect your organisation?

How will changes to the whistleblower regime affect your day-to-day business operations, risk management and compliance procedures?

Productivity Commission: Time’s up for the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation

The Productivity Commission raises serious questions about the Telecommunications Universal Service Obligation.

Six points to keep in mind if your contracts contain automatic renewal terms

Automatic renewal terms are now in the sights of the ACCC, under new laws which extend the unfair contract term provisions of the Australian Consumer Law to small business contracts.

Use it or lose it – Government to repeal Competition Notice regime

The ACCC will be more reliant on the courts to enforce competition law in the telecommunications sector.

Commercially Sensitive: Confidential meets Open Justice

How can you protect commercially sensitive information when it’s being tendered in evidence?

Keeper at the gate: Regulator targets a range of transgressions in financial services

ASIC’s half term enforcement report shows the regulator’s intent to ensure financial institutions and advisers comply with their obligations, lifting the standards of financial advice providers.

Government releases exposure draft amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)

Federal Government moves a step closer to implementing the Harper Review recommendations in competition law.

Pipeline regulation in Australia: Is it broken or just misunderstood?

Since April 2016, when the ACCC published its findings in the East Coast Gas Inquiry, the media has been abuzz with discussion about whether the existing regulatory regime for pipelines is effective.

Must try harder: ASIC’s Half Term Report Card

ASIC’s report on enforcement outcomes for the first part of 2016 reveals a rise in criminal charges and infringement notices.

Is Toll and Sea Swift the exception or a new normal?

On 1 July 2016, the Australian Competition Tribunal granted Sea Swift Pty Limited authorisation to acquire Toll Marine Logistics Australia’s marine freight operations in the Northern Territory and Far North Queensland.

The New Insider Trading Trend: Harsher Penalties and Greater Risks for Businesses – Part Two

By pursuing recent high profile cases against Richard Kamay, Steven Xiao and Oliver Curtis, ASIC has shown that it will prosecute those who have engaged or been involved in insider trading. What does this mean for you and your business?

The New Insider Trading Trend: Harsher Penalties and Greater Risks for Businesses – Part One

By pursuing recent high profile cases against Richard Kamay, Steven Xiao and Oliver Curtis, ASIC has shown that it will prosecute those who have engaged or been involved in insider trading.

The National Access Regime Still Has Teeth

The Australian Competition Tribunal (Tribunal) decided that the shipping channel and wharfage service (the Wharfside Service) at the Port of Newcastle (Port) should be declared under Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 20

Big Brother is watching! Covert government and corporate regulator hacking in Australia

This article focuses on recent legislative developments regarding covert hacking in Australia that your organisation needs to be aware of, and also touches on some new legislative approaches being adopted in the USA.

What does Glencore’s Tribunal application mean for infrastructure investors?

Perhaps hoping to emulate Tigerair’s 2014 success in obtaining greater leverage in commercial negotiations, Glencore lodged an application with the National Competition Council (NCC) for declaration of channel shipping services at the Port of Newcast

ACCC FAD sees dramatic price cuts for declared services

On 21 April 2016, the ACCC’s released its FAD setting out price and non-price terms and conditions for the DTCS. The new FAD sets pricing significantly lower than the previous FAD, with some reductions close to 80%.

ASIC’s Christmas Came Early – More Funding, More Powers and Industry Pays

20 April 2016 was a big day for ASIC.

Businesses Beware – are you caught by the Australian Consumer Law? Implications of the ACCC v Valve decision

Online and international businesses should consider whether they are subject to the ACL and amend their customer agreements to ensure compliance.

Merchants beware: ACCC given powers to stop excessive surcharging

With the recent amendment to the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2010, the ACCC has been given the power to take action where merchants charge customers excessive surcharges for paying for goods and services with credit or debit cards.

Self incrimination, regulators and commissions – do I really have to answer that question? Part 2

This is our second article in this series. In this article we consider who can receive or make use of the transcript of a compulsory examination – including third parties – and the protections available to a person pleading a defence in court proceed

Self incrimination, regulators and commissions – do I really have to answer that question?

This is the first in a two-part series covering some of the issues arising from compulsory examinations, the privileges that may be available to a person being examined, and how the answers can be used.

Small business, consumer protection, agriculture and excessive credit card surcharges: the ACCC’s enforcement priorities for 2016

On 23 February 2016, Rod Sims launched the 2016 ACCC Compliance and Enforcement Policy. The ACCC has identified new enforcement priorities that include enforcement actions against large businesses, consumer guarantees and agriculture.

Competition Review: January 2016

This issue includes the ACCC action against Woolworths for unconscionable conduct towards suppliers, recent penalties for false or misleading representations, and undertakings from BP, Caltex, Woolworths, 7-Eleven and Informed Sources.

ACCC and competition between ports

The ACCC has clearly signalled its preference that State Governments protect opportunities for competition between spatially proximate port facilities in the context of privatisation. This article explores some of the difficulties experienced with t

Competition Review: December 2015

This issue includes the Federal Court decision on Jetstar and Virgin Australia ‘drip pricing’, ACCC’s concerns with the Iron Mountain proposed acquisition of Recall Holdings, as well as updates on the ihail and Sea Swift authorisations.

Federal government releases its response to the Harper Competition Policy Review

The government’s recent response to the Harper Review is generally supportive, and recognises the potential for significant gains arising from improvements to our national competition law and policy.

Telstra takes on the ACCC’s access pricing determination

With $120 million in annual revenue at stake, Telstra is fighting a forced reduction to its wholesale prices.

Competition Review: November 2015

This issue includes the ACCC’s concerns with the Foxtel / Ten proposed acquisitions, as well as Brookfield’s proposed acquisition of Asciano.

Truth in advertising and labelling: The regulator’s perspective on what you can and can’t say

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released two new guides, the Advertising and selling guide and Country of origin claims and the Australian Consumer Law.

Root and branch competition policy review - What does it mean for infrastructure?

On 27 March 2014 the government released the terms of reference for its root and branch competition policy review and revealed the composition of the review panel.

Is authorisation the answer: AGL has another go

On 4 March 2014 the ACCC published its decision to oppose AGL Energy Limited’s proposed acquisition of Macquarie Generation.

Federal Court fines Flight Centre $11 million for attempted price fixing

On 6 December 2013, Justice Logan of the Federal Court found that Flight Centre Travel Group Limited had engaged in six contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

‘Root and branch’ review underway - Terms of reference released and review panel appointed

The ACCC has announced the review panel and released the terms of reference for the independent ‘root and branch’ review of the Competition and Consumer Act.

AGL fails to acquire MacGen: Where to now for the sale of generation assets in NSW and Queensland?

On 4 March 2014, the ACCC published its decision to oppose AGL Energy Limited’s proposed acquisition of Macquarie Generation.

Generic pharmaceuticals and competition law: The ACCC vs Pfizer proceedings

The ACCC has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd.

Is the access regime worth keeping? The productivity commission says ‘yes’

On 11 February 2014, the Productivity Commission released its report into the effectiveness of the national access regime in Part IIIA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

High Court reinstates $2 million penalty against TPG

The High Court’s decision against TPG reinforces that businesses must take great care when using a “dominant message” advertising strategy, or risk being subject to significant penalties.

Renewed focus on dual-price advertising

The Federal Court’s decision against Zamel’s reinforces that business must take caution when utilising a dual-price advertising strategy, or risk being subject to significant penalties.

Buy in from retailers and suppliers on a draft voluntary Food and Grocery Code of Conduct

On 18 November 2013, after more than 18 months of negotiation, the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) reached agreement with Coles and Woolworths on the terms of a proposed food and grocery code of conduct (Code).

Federal Court considers the scope of carriers’ access and installation powers contained in the Telecommunucations Act

On 16 May 2013, Justice Tracey, in the Federal Court, handed down his decision in Pipe Networks Pty Ltd v Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation, a case relating to the construction of Schedules 1 and 3 of the Telecommunications Act 1997.

ACCC wins Lux unconscionable conduct appeal

In a significant decision with implications for all businesses, the Full Federal Court has allowed an appeal by the ACCC in its case against Lux Distributors Pty Ltd, a seller of vacuum cleaners.

IT pricing and the 'Australia Tax'

A recent parliamentary committee report on IT pricing found that Australians generally pay more for IT products such as software, games, music, movies and e-books than customers in many overseas markets.

Government aims to increase protection for franchisees

The Australian Government has released a report containing 18 recommendations following a review of the Franchising Code of Conduct.

Unfair contract terms protection extended to general insurance contracts

As foreshadowed in December 2012, the Government has released draft legislation to extend the unfair contract terms regime to general insurance contracts.

Full Court reduces penalty against TPG from $2 million to $50,000

TPG Internet Pty Ltd v Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (No 2) [2013] FCAFC 37.

ACCC announces outcome of unfair contract terms review - Next step: Enforcement

The ACCC has identified a wide variety of problematic terms in standard form consumer contracts that it considers may amount to unfair contract terms.

Proposed media reforms

Contained in six different Bills, the legislation comprises the Government’s response to the Convergence Review and the Independent Inquiry into the Media and Media Regulation (the Finkelstein Report).

Business beware: The ACCC renews its commitment to enforcement

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has released the “ACCC Compliance and Enforcement Policy” for 2013.

The High Court clarifies the role of search engine providers in publishing advertisements

The High Court has allowed an appeal by Google Inc, finding that Google did not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct in publishing advertiser sponsored links that were misleading or deceptive.

Access just got easier: The High Court redefines reviews under Part IIIA

On 14 September 2012, the High Court handed down its decision in the Pilbara rail access case.

ACCC v Google - Competitors’ names, sponsored links and who is in control?

On 3 April 2012, the Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia delivered a landmark decision in the long running proceedings between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Google Inc.

Announced changes to the Australian General Anti-Avoidance Rule (GAAR)

The government’s action is in direct response to concerns about recent court losses suffered by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) in seeking to apply the GAAR to transactions or arrangements entered into by some of Australia’s largest taxpayers.