A business planning to engage in conduct that may breach competition law can apply for an exemption.
Authorisation is one process for gaining an exemption.
The ACCC only authorises conduct when it won’t substantially lessen competition or is in the public interest.
Businesses should discuss their plans with us before applying.
Authorisation is a public process involving stakeholder consultation. Businesses can ask to keep some information confidential.
What the ACCC does
- We receive, assess and determine applications for authorisation.
- We give applicants general guidance on authorisation and the application process.
What the ACCC can't do
- We don’t give advice about whether a planned activity would break the law.
A business that is planning an arrangement that will or may breach competition rules in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 requires an exemption.
Authorisation is one process for gaining an exemption. It removes the risk of legal action for the activity.
Businesses are responsible for assessing their own risk and deciding whether to seek an exemption. They may want to get independent legal advice.
Authorisation is the process generally used for activities that will or may break competition law on:
Authorisation is often sought for:
Any of the businesses involved in the planned activity can apply on behalf of all participating businesses.
An industry association can also apply on behalf of members.
1. Discuss the application with us
Before applying for authorisation, we encourage businesses to contact us for a discussion. We can give guidance on:
- which exemption processes are suitable for different activities
- the application process
- what information and evidence to include in the application
- how applications are assessed.
Businesses can also give us a draft version of their application for review.
Contact the ACCC on 02 6243 1368 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Prepare the application
A valid application must be in the form approved by the ACCC. The approved form for each application type is set out in the documents below.
The application should:
- respond to all items, or explain why an item is not relevant to the application
- provide answers that are specific, comprehensive and accurate
- include supporting evidence and documents.
For detailed information about how to apply, read the Guidelines for Authorisation of conduct (non-merger).
Authorisation is a transparent public process. Authorisation documents are published online on the authorisations public register for consultation.
However, businesses can ask to exclude confidential information from the public register. In these cases, they must also provide a public version of the application with enough information to allow us to consult with stakeholders.
Read the Guidelines for excluding confidential information from the public register for authorisation and notification processes for more information.
3. Pay the application fee
The application fee is:
- $7500 for a new authorisation
- $2500 to revoke and replace an existing authorisation.
If paying the application fee would cause hardship, we may decide to waive all or part of it. Applications for fee waivers can be lodged electronically using the Fee waiver application form. The business must apply for a fee waiver before applying for authorisation. Read the Guidelines for authorisation of conduct (non-merger), for more information about applying for a fee waiver.
Pay by electronic funds transfer
We prefer payment to be made by electronic funds transfer to:
Account name: ACCC Administered receipts account
Bank: Westpac Banking Corporation
Account number: 146550
Payment narrative: <name of company> <form name>
Other ways to pay
Payment can also be made:
- online at ACCC Payments by credit card (Visa or Mastercard)
- by cheque made out to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and posted to:
General Manager Competition Exemptions Branch
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission
GPO Box 3131 CANBERRA ACT 2601
4. Submit the application
Applications can be lodged electronically through the Authorisations and notifications web form.
The submission must include:
- a public version of the application
- if needed, a clearly marked confidential version of the application
- a signed declaration stating that the application is true, correct and complete
- evidence of payment of the lodgement fee or a covering letter stating how payment will be made or a copy of the ACCC’s advice waiving the lodgement fee
- contact details.
Other ways to apply
Applications can also be submitted by post or in person at an ACCC office.
Changing or withdrawing the application
At our discretion, we may accept minor changes to an application after it’s submitted.
Applications can be withdrawn at any time before our final determination by telling us in writing.
Once we have received an application and made sure that it is valid, we will start our assessment. This assessment process includes consultation with stakeholders.
We follow assessment criteria
There are different criteria for granting authorisation depending on whether the planned activity involves any potential per se breaches of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 – that is, behaviour that is prohibited outright, regardless of its effect on competition.
We will only authorise activities that may involve a per se breach if the likely public benefit outweighs the likely public harm.
The Act prohibits a range of other activities, but only if they substantially lessen competition. For activities such as these, where there are no potential per se breaches, we will grant authorisation if either:
- the planned activity is not likely to substantially lessen competition, or
- the likely public benefit outweighs the likely public harm.
We make a draft determination
After assessing the application and usually after consulting with stakeholders, we will make a draft determination stating:
- whether we plan to grant or deny authorisation
- any proposed conditions on the authorisation, if granting
- the reasons for the decision.
We invite written submissions on the draft determination from applicants and other stakeholders.
Applicants and interested parties can also request a pre-decision conference where all parties can put their views directly to an ACCC Commissioner.
We make a final determination
After consulting on our draft determination, we will make a final determination.
The final determination will state whether authorisation is granted and if so, the date on which legal protection starts and ends.
We must make a final determination on new applications for authorisation within six months. This can be extended for a further six months, provided we have made a draft determination and the applicant agrees to the extension.
If authorisation is granted, legal protection for the conduct begins when the final determination comes into effect.
This is usually 21 days after the date of the final determination, unless an application for review of the determination is made to the Australia Competition Tribunal in that time.