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Inside track: Competition & Consumer

26 October 2020

#Competition & Consumer Law

Inside track: Competition & Consumer

In the media

Prices for regulated transmission services set to fall
The price of wholesale transmission services in many regional and rural parts of Australia will fall substantially following the ACCC’s decision to reduce the regulated prices for the declared Domestic Transmission Capacity Service (DTCS). . The ACCC regulates transmission services in areas where there is little competition between transmission providers or limited infrastructure (23 October 2020).  More...

Fuji Xerox in court over alleged unfair contract terms
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against printing company Fuji Xerox Australia Pty Ltd and a related company, alleging that in total nine types of Fuji’s standard form small business contracts contain 173 unfair contract terms (22 October 2020).  More...

Alsco withdraws bid for Spotless Garments
Alsco and Spotless Garments are major suppliers of hiring, cleaning and delivery services for garments across Australia. The ACCC’s preliminary view was that the proposed acquisition would likely substantially lessen competition in the supply of commercial laundry services for garments in each Australian state, as well as in multi-state markets (22 October 2020).   More...

Union Dairy Company pays penalty for alleged breach of Dairy Code
Riddoch Trading Pty Ltd, trading as the Union Dairy Company (UDC), has paid a penalty of $10,500 after the ACCC issued it with an infringement notice for allegedly failing to comply with its publishing obligations under the Dairy Code. The Code requires dairy processors to publish standard form milk supply agreements on their website by 1 June each year (21 October 2020).  More...

Ombudsman applauds ACCC approach to tackle unfair contract terms
The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman has  welcomed Mr Sim’s National Press Club Address, calling on the Federal Government to make Unfair Contract Terms between big and small businesses illegal and subject to harsh penalties (21 October 2020).  More...

Action over alleged market sharing cartel in the overhead crane industry
The ACCC has commenced civil proceedings in the Federal Court against NQCranes Pty Ltd, alleging it engaged in cartel conduct in contravention of the Competition and Consumer Act, entering into a ‘distributorship agreement’ which contained a provision that the companies would not target each other’s existing service customers (19 October 2020).  More...

ACCC receives expectation guide
The ACCC has received a Statement of Expectations from the Government in relation to its work to protect broadband and mobile consumers. Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher said the Statement dealt with issues such as NBN Co’s wholesale prices, business market competition, and spectrum (19 October 2020).  More...

Action over alleged market sharing cartel in the overhead crane industry
The ACCC has commenced civil proceedings in the Federal Court against overhead crane company NQCranes Pty Ltd, alleging it engaged in cartel conduct, by  entering into a ‘distributorship agreement’ which contained a provision that the companies would not target each other’s existing service customers in Brisbane and Newcastle (15 October 2020).  More...

ASIC succeeds in obtaining orders against Debt Wipeout
ASIC has obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court of Australia against Mr David Murphy, Mr Anastasios Mavroulis, Mrs Kewa Ruwhiu and Mr Mathew Ruwhiu (the defendants) and Debts Knockout Pty Ltd (Debts Knockout). ASIC alleges that Debts Knockout engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct while carrying on a financial services business (15 October 2020).  More...

Amaysim and Lycamobile pay penalties over ads for ‘unlimited’ mobile plans
Amaysim Australia Ltd and Lycamobile Pty Ltd have paid penalties totalling $126,000 and $12,600 respectively after the ACCC issued each of these mobile services providers with an infringement notice for alleged false or misleading representations about their mobile phone plans (15 October 2020).  More...

FE Sports allegedly engaged in resale price maintenance
The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court against B & K Holdings (QLD) Pty Ltd, trading as FE Sports, alleging that it engaged in resale price maintenance for the wholesale supply of cycling and sporting products in Australia. (15 October 2020).  More...

iSelect’s record $8.5 million fine highlights a systemic problem in the energy-comparison market
The record $8.5 million fine imposed on iSelect in Australia for false and misleading conduct confirms the appalling state of the commercial price-comparison market. The company promises to help consumers save money by cutting through the confusing pricing structures in energy, home insurance, credit cards and phone plans, among other markets (14 October 2020).  More...

Practice and regulation

Sims: Law changes needed to tackle market power
On the day the US DOJ launched its monopolism suit against Google, ACCC Chair, Rod Sims, spoke to the National Press Club on ‘Tackling Market Power in the Covid-19 Era’.See ACCC media release. View the speech here (21 October 2020). 

Competition issues in infrastructure and changes since COVID-19
Australian Financial Review National Infrastructure Summit: 15 October 2020
Sims spoke about the importance of efficient infrastructure to keep the economy strong beyond the current pandemic and touched on a range of issues including the competitiveness of the NBN, energy affordability to the disruption and the airline industry.  More...

Inquiry into the National Electricity Market: September 2020
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission: 19 October 2020
This report has been prepared as part of the ACCC's inquiry into the prices, profits and margins in the supply of electricity in the National Electricity Market. The supplementary report sets out recent market developments.  More...

ACCC Note: Screen scraping warnings not anti-competitive
The ACCC, responding to questions on notice as part of a parliamentary inquiry by the Senate Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, said that “statements or warnings regarding potential security or safety risks associated with screen scraping and sharing passwords … does not appear to have the purpose or effect of substantially lessening competition.” On 24 April 2020, the reporting date was extended from the first sitting day in October 2020 to 16 April 2021.

Guidelines on Part XICA - Prohibited conduct in the energy market
These guidelines set out how the ACCC will interpret Part XICA of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA) and they explain the general approach the ACCC will take in investigating alleged contraventions of Part XICA (prohibiting certain conduct involving retail pricing, financial contract markets and electricity spot markets). Part XICA will be in effect from 10 June 2020 to 1 January 2026.  More...

Cases

Janbar Pty Ltd v Arborcrest Pty Ltd [2020] FCA 1519
CONTRACTS – breach of implied statutory warranties under s 32(2) of the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 (SA) – consideration of the jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Australia under s 40 – whether window and door system installation was fit for purpose under s 32(2)(f) – apportionment of liability and contributory negligence.
CONSUMER LAW –  misleading or deceptive conduct under s 18 of the Australian Consumer Law – whether alleged representations were made and misleading or deceptive.
Australian Constitution ss 75, 76, 77; Australian Consumer Law ss 18, 57, 236; Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) ss 87CB, 87CD, 137B 

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v iSelect Limited [2020] FCA 1523
CONSUMER LAW –  misleading  or  deceptive conduct  – false or  misleading  representations – where the respondent represented to consumers visiting its website that through its comparison service it would compare all of the plans available from its partner retailers in a consumer’s area and recommend the most suitable or competitive plan to the consumer – where the respondent represented to consumers that the price for an available plan was an amount lower than the price that the consumer would, or would be likely to, pay to the energy provider for the plan – where the respondent admitted liability for contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law – where the parties prepared a statement of agreed facts and admissions and jointly proposed declarations and orders including a pecuniary penalty of $8.5 million – whether proper basis to make the declarations and orders – whether proposed penalty appropriate in the circumstances – proposed declarations and orders made
Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), Sch 2, Australian Consumer Law, ss 18, 29, 34, 224, 246
Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)

Disclaimer
The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources.

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