Yesterday, the ACCC announced its compliance and enforcement priorities for 2022.
There are no surprises.
The priorities are the same as those publicly voiced by the ACCC over the past 12-24 months but they again demonstrate the ACCC’s wide ambit in enforcing competition and consumer law.
Unlike previous years, the ACCC has not identified any new sector which it proposes to investigate or in respect of which it may undertake a market study. But don’t rejoice yet – this could happen at any time.
As usual, the ACCC will also continue to take a vigorous approach to cartel conduct and merger review.
In addition to outlining its priorities for 2022, the ACCC also reiterated its desire for a new “unfair practices” prohibition, penalties for breaching consumer guarantees and for significant changes to the merger review process and prohibition (see: https://jws.com.au/en/insights/articles/2021-articles/accc-wants-significant-merger-reform-what-does-thi ).
Finally, it is important to note that Rod Sims’ third term as Chair of the ACCC will end in two weeks.
Mr Sims has been responsible for significant achievements in his time as Chair including overseeing the introduction of the criminalisation of cartels, the “effects test” for misuse of market power, the concerted practices prohibition and significant penalties for consumer law breaches.
We expect the new Chair, Gina Cass-Gottlieb will continue the ACCC’s vigorous enforcement of competition and consumer law matters. Ms Cass-Gottlieb will bring a heightened level of rigour and sophistication to ACCC enforcement having acted for companies engaging with the ACCC for over 25 years as a leading private practitioner.
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