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ACCC releases preliminary report on the Digital Platforms Inquiry - Dec 2018

On 10 December 2018, the ACCC released its preliminary report on the inquiry into the impact of search engines, social media and digital content aggregators (digital platforms) on competition in the Australian media and advertising services markets. The ACCC was directed in December 2017 by the then Treasurer, Scott Morrison, to undertake this inquiry.

Whilst the inquiry is targeted at digital platforms, the recommendations put forward by the ACCC in its preliminary report are broad in scope and have the potential to impact on a wide range of businesses operating in Australia. Amongst other recommendations, the ACCC proposes making changes to privacy and consumer protection laws as well as competition laws.

In this article Partner, Andrew Rankin, along with Associate, Philip Chow and Lawyer, Jamin Li, summarise the key findings and recommendations from the preliminary report.

Digital Markets and the Paradigm of Competition - Dec 2018

Consultant George Raitt discusses the implications of current competition law investigations in Australia and overseas for the paradigm of markets and competition which competition laws enforce.  His forthcoming book, The Metaphysics of Market Power: The Zero-Sum Competition and Market Manipulation Approach examines the concept in more detail.

ACCC v Pfizer – Special Leave Application - Oct 2018

ACCC Priority – Small Business Unfair Contract Terms Legislation – Deeply flawed? - Sep 2018

The small business unfair contract term legisation has been in force for almost 2 years, and the ACCC has been making enforcement of this legislation a priority.

However, ACCC Chairman Rod Sims has recently said that these changes are “deeply flawed”. He said that the law “does not go far enough, and its limitations really tie our hands as a regulator. What we want is unfair contract terms to be made illegal and we want huge penalties to apply.”

Ian Nathaniel, Partner and Conrad Banasik, Associate, take a look at recent ACCC enforcement action and whether the legislation needs to be strengthened.

‘Heinz Sight’ is a Wonderful Thing: Food Giant Ordered to Pay $2.25 Million in Penalties - Sep 2018

Following a finding on 19 March 2018 that Heinz had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, the Federal Court of Australia last week hit the food giant with a $2.25 million penalty. The decision marks a fresh approach to the regulation of the marketing of food products to address concerns that health benefits not be overstated, especially when targeted at children and their parents or carers, who are the purchasers of the products. It is a reminder for companies that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has power to request the imposition of significant penalties, and is not afraid to do so.

Partner, Tom Griffith and Lawyer, Millie Byrnes Howe discuss the implications of the case. 

Stay in your speed lane - a further warning to retail carriage service providers about NBN speed claims and associated upcoming standards - Sep 2018

Following continuing complaints by consumers in relation to differences between the advertised NBN service speeds and those actually experienced by consumers, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) continues to monitor the claims made by retail carriage service providers (RSPs) and has now taken action against one RSP.

Bundling Pfizer with Baxter – does the ACCC’s loss to Pfizer cast doubt on their win over Baxter? - Aug 2018

Earlier this year, the Full Court of the Federal Court handed down its decision on the ACCC’s appeal in the Pfizer case. In dismissing the appeal, with the result that the ACCC has lost yet another case alleging misuse of market power, the Full Court may well have cast doubt on the earlier majority decision in Baxter, a ‘bundling’ case in which the ACCC succeeded. 

Dr. George Raitt, Consultant, discusses the implications. 

The ACCC has since applied for special leave to appeal to the High Court.

Medibank Private Limited successfully defends claims of misleading or deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct - Sep 2017

Justice O’Callaghan of the Federal Court of Australia delivered his judgment in the case of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) v Medibank Private Limited (Medibank) [2017] FCA 1006 on 30 August 2017. The Court found that Medibank did not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct, nor did it act unconscionably. Partner, Tom Griffith and Lawyer, Nisha Pereira discuss below.

Vocational Education and Training Industry Service Providers taught a lesson in the Federal Court - Jul 2017

Vocational education providers have been on the top of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) hit list. In the last two months alone, the Federal Court has ruled against three major service providers, Get Qualified Australia Pty Ltd, Acquire Learning and Careers Pty Ltd and Unique International College Pty Ltd. Penalties are yet to be decided in the case of Get Qualified and Unique. Acquire has been ordered to pay penalties of $4.5 million which is the ACCC’s second largest consumer protection penalty.

Thousands of consumers have suffered loss as a result of the misconduct by these major service providers. The ACCC are particularly concerned that unscrupulous door to door marketing practices previously used in the energy sector are now appearing in the education sector. This update, by Partner Tom Griffith and Lawyer Nisha Pereira will focus on the decision of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission v Unique International College [2017] FCA 727.

Landmark Decision in Competition Law in Australia - Dec 2016

On 14 December 2016 the High Court found in favour of the ACCC in proceedings concerning anti-competitive conduct by Flight Centre between the years 2005 and 2009.  Partner, Tom Griffith and Lawyer, Nisha Pereira discuss the judgment and its implications below.

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