The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has published its September 2013 quarterly report, ACCCount. In the last quarter, the ACCC was involved in 10 proceedings relating to competition enforcement across industries as diverse as air freight, manufacturing components and financial services, which are still underway.
There are another 36 consumer protection cases currently under way that deal with conduct in the energy sector, credence claims such as country of origin; and consumer guarantees. Mr Sims noted that the ACCC has now taken 10 cases under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) regime, where the Federal Court has issued penalties equal to or exceeding $1 million.
“These enforcement actions demonstrate the ACCC’s continued focus on maintaining and promoting competition, protecting the interests and safety of consumers and remedying market failures. Many of these cases have been aided considerably through the judicious use of the ACCC’s statutory information gathering powers,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
The ACCC issues notices under section 155 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requiring information, documents or attendance at examination, as well as using other powers to compel information such as those used in the product safety context.
“In recent times, the ACCC has observed what it considers to be an increase in instances of possible non-compliance by recipients of s155 notices. Examples of practices that result in, or may lead to, non-compliance include seeking variations to notices too close to the due date without providing adequate explanation; failing to provide a response by the due date; and incomplete or inaccurate responses,” Mr Sims said.
“While not used in every matter, they nevertheless remain an important part of the investigative process, and ensuring recipients comply in terms of the timing required for responses and the accuracy or completeness of information is important to the ACCC’s role in reaching considered views on the conduct of concern before deciding on the action required.”
“The ACCC’s prime interest in raising these concerns is to ensure greater compliance with the investigative process and to emphasize that it remains vigilant in protecting the integrity of its investigation and litigation processes” Mr Sims said
In this quarter, the ACCC:
- received payments totalling $46,800 for Infringement Notices
- removed over 473,553 unsafe consumer goods from sale in 71 recalls
- received 51,156 complaints and inquiries from business and consumers
- assessed or reviewed 65 merger applications
- issued 11 authorisation decisions
- assessed 146 exclusive dealing notifications
- served 3 audit notices