By Warren Scott, Partner and Cassandra Taylor, Associate
On 25 February 2020, ACCC Chair Rod Sims, during a speech at the Committee for Economic Development Australia (CEDA), outlined the ACCC’s compliance and enforcement priorities for 2020.
In outlining the ACCC’s priorities, Sims listed the priorities of the ACCC which were enduring, as well as those which have been more specifically targeted for 2020.
Sims reiterated the ACCC’s focus on prosecuting cartel cases, five of which are currently before the courts. The intention for this to continue is evidenced by the ACCC’s intention to institute four new competition cases this year.
ACCC’s 2020 Compliance and Enforcement Priorities
Sims, in discussing where the ACCC will target their work for 2020, listed the following as priorities for ACCC attention:
- The funeral industry: The ACCC has noted that this industry is one where some players have significant market power, and the ACCC intend to target misuse of this power and exclusive dealing, as well as unconscionable conduct and misleading and deceptive conduct in the industry, stemming from hidden and inflation of prices.
- Digital issues: The collection and use of personal data will be a point of ACCC scrutiny, as evidenced by the establishment of a new specialist Digital Platforms Branch.
- Pricing and selling practices of essential services: In particular, new laws surrounding anti-competitive conduct and failures to pass on cost reductions will be targeted by the ACCC, especially in the energy market.
- Misleading claims in food marketing: The ACCC has specified that misleading claims about nutritional/health benefits in foods, as well as dishonest and inaccurate claims about food, will be targeted in 2020.
- The commercial construction sector: The Commercial Construction Unit of the watchdog will continue to target anti-competitive practices in this area, as well as activities damaging small business.
- Small business: There will be a targeted approach to enforcement of the Franchising Code of Conduct, which is expected to culminate in a number of cases being brought before the courts.
- Dairy: The ACCC has welcomed the Dairy Industry Code of Conduct and the ACCC will be involved in education of dairy farmers of their rights, and enforcing non-compliance of the code.
- Consumer guarantees: Consumer guarantees remain the number one focus of the ACCC. Sims listed, among others, the action against Mazda that is before the courts and alluded that other proceedings will be brought in this space.
- Button batteries: A task force has been established to examine regulatory options to prevent the deaths of children who swallow flat, round, button batteries. A draft recommendation is due to be released by the ACCC early in the year.
To see the full Compliance and Enforcement Policy and Priorities, click here: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/Compliance%20and%20Enforcement%20Policy%202020.pdf
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