The ACCC is currently prioritising anti-competitive conduct in commercial construction markets and has established a Commercial Construction Unit (CCU) focussed on the construction sector.
The CCU is a specialist team that has been set up to investigate allegations of anti-competitive conduct in the commercial construction sector. The focus is on the behaviour of participants in the construction industry that may raise competition concerns under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA).
Effective competition in the construction sector will deliver fairness to all businesses. It is important that all businesses can vigorously compete for work on their merits, are not subject to unfair contract terms, or the unconscionable or coercive conduct of others.
Several areas of the ACCC’s work have direct impact on construction businesses.
The ACCC’s role in the commercial building and construction industry is to detect, investigate and stop anti-competitive behaviour including:
- serious cartel conduct (including bid rigging, market sharing and price fixing)
- secondary boycotts
- exclusive dealing
- agreements or concerted practices which substantially lessen competition
- misuse of market power (including predatory pricing).
Australian Consumer Law provisions
Under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the ACCC also has a role in protecting individuals and businesses from unfair, unconscionable or coercive behaviour.
Unfair contract terms
Small businesses are protected from unfair contract terms in standard form contracts. The law applies if at least one of the parties is a small business (employs less than 20 people) and the upfront price payable under the contract is no more than $300 000 or $1 million if the contract is for more than 12 months.
The ACL prohibits businesses from engaging in ‘unconscionable conduct’ in their dealings with consumers and other businesses.
The ACL provides that a person must not use physical force, undue harassment or coercion in connection with the supply of goods and services. Coercion involves force or compulsion or threats of force or compulsion negating choice or freedom to act.
The ACCC immunity and cooperation policy for cartel conduct sets out our policy in relation to applications for immunity from proceedings by those involved in cartel conduct, and how cooperation provided to the ACCC by cartel participants will be recognised.
If you believe you may be involved in a cartel, be the first to apply for immunity from prosecution in exchange for helping us with our investigations, by contacting:
Contact the CCU at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other queries contact the Infocentre.
Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Building and Construction Commission
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