Penalties and imprisonment
A business that breaches the civil cartel prohibitions or commits a criminal cartel offence may be ordered to pay a pecuniary penalty. The maximum amount of the penalty is the greater of:
- $10 million
- three times the total value of the benefit gained by the business as a result of the breach, or
- 10 per cent of the business's annual turnover (including related bodies corporate) during the 12‑month period ending at the end of the month in which the business committed, or began committing, the offence.
Individuals personally involved in a cartel could also face criminal or civil penalties, including:
- up to 10 years in jail and/or penalties of up to $420 000 per criminal cartel offence
- a pecuniary penalty of up to $500 000 per civil contravention.
It is illegal for a corporation to indemnify its officers against legal costs and any financial penalty.
Damages (compensation order)
In addition to the imposition of penalties, businesses that breach competition laws may be required to pay compensation to the victims of the anti-competitive conduct. For example, a customer who has been overcharged as a result of a price fixing cartel agreement is able to sue to recover the amount of the overpayment. Compensation can also be recovered from individuals running the company if they were involved in the contravention. The court also has the power to make other orders to overcome losses, such as an order that varies the terms of supply contracts.
A person or business that contravenes competition laws may be subject to a range of other court orders.
- Injunctions: these are court orders that requires a business or individual to do or refrain from doing particular acts.
- Other orders: businesses that breach, and employees involved in those breaches, can also be ordered to:
- establish a compliance program
- establish an education and training program
- revise internal operations
- disclose specified information to specified persons
- publish a corrective advertisement
- Disqualification orders: on the application of the ACCC, the Court may order that a person involved in a breach of the CCA be disqualified from managing a corporation for such a period as it considers appropriate.