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ACCC names key enforcement and compliance priorities for 2017

Staff Writer |
The chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims says 2017 will see its enforcement teams hone in on misleading and deceptive practices, anti-competitive conduct and unfair contract terms affecting small businesses.

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Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney today, Mr Sims launched the ACCC’s 2017 Compliance and Enforcement policy, which details the industries and issues the competition and consumer regulator will focus on in the year ahead.

Clear priorities will be unfair contract terms, cartels, and misconduct in the health, construction and agriculture sectors.

“The ACCC does a lot of educating and working with businesses, large and small, on compliance with laws that are set up to ensure the market economy runs as it should, to the benefit of living standards and household budgets,” Mr Sims said.

“Education plays an important role in compliance, but sometimes we need to send a stronger message to businesses. Court action not only helps to sharpen businesses’ focus on what is and isn’t acceptable under the law, but acts as a deterrent to others that may be tempted in a race to the bottom."

“I can foreshadow that we will have a big focus on unfair contracts in 2017, following the introduction of new laws to protect small business in 2016. What that means is that large companies can no longer have unilateral terms in their standard contracts that put small businesses at a significant disadvantage,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims says cartel conduct is another area in which significant penalties, including jail sentences, can be used as a deterrent.

“Last year, ACCC investigations led to two criminal cartel charges and we have advanced investigations into other alleged cartels.

“Unfortunately, I fear that only jail sentences for individuals in prominent companies will help to send the appropriate deterrence messages that cartels seriously damage competition and the economy as a whole,” Mr Sims said.

Mr Sims said particular areas of enforcement for the Commission in 2017 will be the health and energy sectors.

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