Competition law within Australia is governed through the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA) and is regulated through a separate body financed by the government dubbed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Ensuring that your company understands these provisions and how they are regulated is very important. Protection against anti-competitive behaviour is crucial in enabling your business remains competitive and that the competition is even, ensuring fair conduct and trade within your industry.

The best way to ensure that your business remains competitive and protected is to hire a competition lawyer. Not only will a competition lawyer be able to protect you, they will also be able to pursue legal action against a competitor to ensure that your industry remains as competitive as possible and that there is no anti-competitive behaviour.

Why You Should Hire a Competition Lawyer

Hiring a competition lawyer to ensure that your company understands the Act, its implications and how it effects both you and your competition is extremely important. Competition law is a prominent factor through most transactions within a company. A competition lawyer will also be able to solve any disputes between your competition and business partners, ensuring that trade practices will remain competitive and fair.

The Competition and Consumer Act (2010) covers a wide variety of competition law, some highlighted below;

  • product safety and labelling;
  • unfair market practices;
  • price monitoring;
  • industry codes;
  • industry regulation; and
  • mergers and acquisitions.

A competition lawyer will not only strengthen your understanding of competition law, they will also keep you updated with any new changes to the legislation as well as precedent from the ACCC. A competition lawyer will also be able to help you understand your rights and regulations under the Competition and Consumer Act (2010). These may include:

  • ensuring contracts do not have unfair terms;
  • honouring customer guarantees;
  • ensuring the safety of products and services; and
  • complying with rules on sales practices.

Opportunity for Small Businesses:

One of the primary focuses of the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) is to provide smaller businesses with a more level playing field through the promotion of fair competition. The Act provides this by giving you and your business rights that offer you protection in your dealings with suppliers, competitors and customers. With this in mind, if you are a small business, there is no better time to become more competitive with the help of a competition lawyer.

In certain circumstances the ACCC can grant legal immunity for conduct that would otherwise breach the Act. The ACCC may grant immunity to small businesses to collectively negotiate terms and conditions with suppliers if this is in the public interest. This process can take months, even years to complete, the help of a competition lawyer in trying to achieve immunity to benefit your small business is imperative to ensure that you maximise the potential of your business.

The ACCC- What it can and can’t do for your business:

The ACCC is limited in what it can do for your business as it is separate from the government. It is important to know what it can and cannot provide your business.

What it can provide your business with;

  • provide you with information on and help you understand your business’ rights and obligations under the Act;
  • tell you about companies and individuals that have broken the rules and that the ACCC has taken action against;
  • investigate alleged breaches of the Act and potentially take enforcement action for breaches of the Act; and
  • refer you to other agencies if your issue does not involve the Act • help you in these ways via the ACCC website, by phone or by email.

What it cannot do for your business;

  • provide you with legal advice- even on the Act;
  • provide advice on contractual matters or any other matters that fall outside the Act, including those involving financial products or services;
  • comment on the reputation of a business, or whether purchasing a business or franchise is a good investment;
  • automatically get involved to resolve your business dispute, even if you think the Act’s rules have been breached.

From the list, it states that the ACCC is unable to provide you with any legal advice, even regarding the Act. This emphasises the importance of hiring a competition lawyer to able to properly interpret the law as the body who regulates the Act is unable to provide you with legal advice.

What should you do if your business, or a competitor, breaches the Act?

The ACCC states that if you have evidence that another business, or your own, has engaged in conduct that is likely to breach the Act, you should seek legal advice about your rights. You can also make a complaint to the ACCC as well, but legal advice is strongly recommended to go along with the complaint.

With this in mind, it can be seen that hiring a competition lawyer will be able to provide you with appropriate protections and advice if you or a competitor engage in anti-competitive conduct.

Conclusion

The recent amendments to the Competition and Consumer Act (2010) are still relatively new and can be quite difficult to keep track of whilst kick-starting your business. Having a competition lawyer aid your business will create the most security in business and make sure that it is able to perform from the get go. Lawpath offers competitive fixed-price quotes to help you find the perfect competition lawyer for your company.

Hiring a competition lawyer? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800 529 728 to learn more about obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our lawyer marketplace to ensure you are equipped deal with your company’s competitionmatters effectively.

Alex Hatzikalimnios

Alex is currently a Legal Intern for LawPath, working in their content team to help provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. Alex is studying a Bachelor of Laws at the University of Notre Dame.