ACCC compliance and enforcement priorities 2021

Articles Written by Sar Katdare (Partner), Jaime Campbell (Senior Associate)

Yesterday, the ACCC released its Compliance and Enforcement Priorities for 2021.

Target areas

In addition to the 'usual suspects' in cartels and anti-competitive behaviour, the ACCC will target the following areas:

  • Ongoing consumer and competition law issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and event cancellations, forward sale practices by travel businesses and domestic air travel
  • the funeral services sector
  • digital platforms
  • pricing and selling of essential services (including price transparency), with a focus on energy and telecommunications
  • Anti-competitive conduct in the financial services sector including debt collection
  • the commercial construction sector, with a focus on large public and private projects and conduct impacting small business
  • Conduct towards small businesses, including franchisees
  • the agriculture sector, including compliance with the Dairy Code of Conduct and the Horticulture Code of Conduct
  • consumer guarantees, with a focus on motor vehicle dealers and caravans
  • new safety standards for button batteries
  • new quad bike safety standards
  • recommendations from the Home Loan Price Inquiry final report released in December 2020.

What else do you need to know?

In addition to being incredibly busy during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ACCC has a number of high profile litigation matters proceeding through the courts this year, including criminal and civil cartels, the first case on the misuse of market power “effects” test and a number of other competition and consumer law matters.

It is conducting market enquiries into the Murray Darling Basin and Electricity and Gas sectors and will explore amendments to the merger process, access regime, consumer guarantees regime and unfair terms regime.

The upshot is that the ACCC will be more resource constrained than ever before. Investigations may take longer and the ACCC may be less likely to pursue complaints without material consumer or economic harm.

Despite this, the ACCC has shown again why it is Australia’s most vigorous regulator and why competition and consumer law compliance is essential for all businesses.

Important Disclaimer: The material contained in this article is comment of a general nature only and is not and nor is it intended to be advice on any specific professional matter. In that the effectiveness or accuracy of any professional advice depends upon the particular circumstances of each case, neither the firm nor any individual author accepts any responsibility whatsoever for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of any articles. Before acting on the basis of any material contained in this publication, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation (Australia-wide except in Tasmania).

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