WITH GREATER POWER OVER COMPETITION COMES GREATER RESPONSIBILITY

Author: Stewart Payne

In future market inquiries the Competition Commission will be able to impose remedies across a whole sector. 

The Competition Commission is soon expected to release a draft report from its public passenger transport inquiry, the last of four separate market inquiries it will have concluded over the past year (into data and the health-care and grocery retail sectors). Once the transport inquiry is finalised, the commission will have cleared its slate of all pending market inquiries initiated under the Competition Act before its amendment past year.

Though the commission has sought to achieve significant and sometimes wide-reaching reform through the recommendations it has made in its recent inquiry reports, a key feature has been that its recommendations are simply that — recommendations. They are non-binding and do not in and of themselves impose any obligations on firms to comply.

The commission could in these market inquiry reports advise firms to alter or cease behaviour under threat of prosecution if they fail to do so. This is a tactic it employed against MTN and Vodacom in the data market inquiry, where it believes it has gathered sufficient evidence to make a case that specific aspects of the firms’ conduct contravene a provision of the act.

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