Guide to corporate trade practices compliance programs

9 December 2005

Medium to large companies now have a dedicated corporate trade practices compliance guideline to assist them to better educate themselves about the essential elements of obeying the law.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, today issued the first of several corporate trade practices compliance guidelines being developed by the agency.

A complementary ACCC publication focusing on the requirements of small and micro business will be issued early in 2006.

"Compliance programs provide a preventative mechanism enabling companies to identify and reduce the risk of subsequent trade practices breaches", he said.

"The consequences of failing to adequately manage trade practices risks have long been recognised. Companies face significant penalties, injunctions and a variety of ancillary and remedial orders if they break the law. They may also have to contend with significant distractions to business management and damage to their brand.

"Proposed changes to the law – including the introduction of criminal sanctions for breaches of the anti-competitive conduct section of the Trade Practices Act and higher fines – mean companies must face the need to make lasting changes to their corporate culture.

"The ACCC sees the introduction of a compliance program as a way of minimising the risk of a future compliance failure".

Mr Samuel said now, more than ever, a culture of compliance with the Act would not be an optional extra, but an essential element of doing business.

"The ACCC much prefers compliance over non-compliance which results in confrontation or crackdown. The ACCC is willing and able to assist companies in developing effective trade practices compliance programs to minimise their risk of breaching the Act. However, if business ignores this, in future we will have a much bigger stick.

"In a new environment of increased financial penalties and possible criminal sanctions that corporations and their executives will face for ignoring this obligation, this will no longer be an option. I suggest it will now be crucial that a corporation is able to demonstrate to its shareholders the existence of a corporate culture that is effective in the management of compliance.

"To do this, a company needs be able to demonstrate that it has in place a system of deep-rooted values, attitudes and beliefs that affects the way those within the company perceive the company itself and what it stands for and the way it perceives its relationship with suppliers, customers and regulators".

The guideline was developed in consultation with the compliance industry and is available at no cost. It can be ordered through the Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or obtained from the website.

*Please note this publication has been retired.

Release number: 
MR 302/05
Media enquiries: 
Ms Lin Enright - (02) 6243 1108
Mr Graeme Samuel - 0408 335 555