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GRC Professional : GRC Autumn 2012
23 the point i’ve made is that a 100 per cent success rate is a little high and may show that we are trying to be too certain of the cases we take on. on the competition side, we are litigating cases to do with misuse of market power and agreements that lessen competition or, more obviously, c ar tel activity. if we see significant competition and consumer detriment, then we will look to take it on if we have reasonable grounds, even if the chances of success are not guaranteed. What are your enforcement priorities this year? Keeping an eye out for cartel activity is the core business for a competition reg ulator. so that’s clearly a priority – always has been, always will be. We are also putting increased focus on concentrated markets and the potential for misuse of market power. Misuse of market power is, in many ways, the most fasci nat ing prov i sion in the Competition and Consumer act 2010 because it represents the dividing line bet ween what is good competitive behaviour and what is not good competitive behaviour, and we wil l be focusi ng on how that’s going to apply generally. We are also keeping an eye on the supermarket and fuel sectors – two examples of the concentrated market s discussed earlier. Ensuring the potential for online activity to bring more competition isn’t disrupted is a huge priority. We also have an enforcement focus on consumer guarantees now that consumers have statutory rights to those guarantees. the significance is that you’ve got a lot of companies selling goods and seeking to limit a customer’s ability to get redress if the good is not as advertised. We are trying to make sure consumers are aware of that and companies get the message that this is important. X Where do you believe existing market structures or mechanisms need the most support and how is the ACCC approaching these? at the consumer end, there is a lot of change in the communications and energy markets, with inc rea si ngly complex product s. so we need to spend a lot of time making sure that consumers aren’t being misled. the telecommunications market is an obvious one because the products keep changing and consumer demands keep changing, so there is the potential for a lot of confusion about what customers are actually buying. i’ll also mention the com munications market at the competition end. Competition in this area is changing markedly – you’ve got the national Broadba nd net work com i ng and a converg ence of data, voice, television and mobiles. through all that change, we’re ensuring competition is maintained. another area we’re keeping a close eye on is what the online world is bringing to markets. australia has many concentrated markets and the online world is changing how they operate. so concentrated markets can potentially be less concent rated because the online world can break them down. a big focus of ours is making sure this rather slow online revolution takes place and isn’t blocked by incu mbent s. You’ve said that the ACCC’s high success rate in first instance litigation may show that it has been too conservative in the past. How do you characterise your current approach to litigation? We have an extraordinarily high success rate in litigation, which in many ways we are proud of because it show s that we do what we do pr operly. If we see significant competition and consumer detriment, then we will look to take it on if we have reasonable grounds, even if the chances of success are not guaranteed.
GRC Summer 2012
GRC Winter 2012