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Commission releases competitor collaboration guidelines for new law

9 January 2018

The Commerce Commission has released a final version of its guidelines for assessing collaborations between competitors as a result of amendments to the law relating to cartels.

The guidelines provide a broad overview of the Commission’s approach to enforcing the new law. Changes to the Commerce Act include a new cartel prohibition with exceptions for collaborative activities, vertical supply contracts and Commission joint buying agreements. The Commerce (Cartels and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2017 also introduces a clearances regime for businesses that enter into collaborative activities which risk breaching the law.

Chairman Dr Mark Berry said the guidelines explain the new law which was introduced to provide for more pro-competitive collaboration between businesses while deterring cartel conduct.

“The guidelines are the result of a comprehensive consultation process with the business and legal community which included consultation on draft guidelines and revised draft guidelines. The guidelines have been further amended to reflect changes to the Bill before it was passed in August 2017,” Dr Berry said.

The key changes since the last draft of the Guidelines are:

  • criminalisation has gone – Parliament has dropped the provisions which would have imposed criminal sanctions for cartel conduct
  • clearance is now a single stage process – we have adjusted our process for assessing collaborative activity clearances to reflect the removal of criminalisation
  • we have updated the confidentiality provisions.

The guidelines can be found on our website.