September 22, 2023

As an Australian enterprise proprietor, you will have heard the time period ‘ anti-competitive behaviour’ thrown round within the media and in enterprise circles. However have you learnt what anti-competitive behaviour is and the way it can probably have an effect on your online business actions in Australia?

Anti-competitive behaviour can take many kinds, and whereas some types of competitors are useful for companies, anti-competitive behaviour can result in vital hurt to customers and different companies.

On this article, we’ll clarify what anti-competitive behaviour is, the various kinds of anti-competitive behaviour, how anti-competitive behaviour can influence your online business and solutions to different steadily requested questions.

Learn alongside!

What’s Anti-Aggressive Behaviour?

In Australia, anti-competitive behaviour refers to behaviours carried out by companies that restrict or stop competitors. This behaviour is illegitimate because the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA) bans companies from behaving in a approach that damages competitors. The CCA restricts companies from appearing anti-competitively by proscribing contracts, understandings, preparations or concerted practices which have the aim, impact or possible impact of considerably lessening competitors in a market.

What’s the market in regard to anti-competitive behaviour?

The time period market was outlined within the authorized case Re Queensland Co−operative Milling Association Ltd., Defiance Holdings Ltd. (Proposed Mergers with Barnes Milling Ltd as an space of shut competitors between corporations or a discipline of rivalry between corporations in which there’s substitution between one product and one other, and between one supply of provide and one other, in response to altering costs. A market has 4 parts:

  • Degree of perform
  • Geography
  • Product
  • Time

What Is ‘Considerably Lessening Competitors In The Market’?

Considerably lessening competitors out there is a time period used to explain a scenario the place a enterprise or a number of companies have interaction in conduct that has the impact of decreasing competitors in a specific market to a considerable diploma. The impact of being ‘substantial’ has been outlined in case regulation as being massive, weighty, large, actual or of substance or not insubstantial, relying on the context. The impact is substantial if it’s important or weighty relative to the scale of the actual market.

In Australia, the CCA prohibits conduct that has the aim or impact of considerably lessening competitors in a market. Whether or not a enterprise has considerably lessened competitors is predicated on elements resembling the next:

  • The dimensions and focus of corporations out there
  • The doorway boundaries for brand spanking new opponents
  • The provision of substitute services or products
  • The diploma of market energy held by the companies concerned

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission have the ability to take enforcement motion in opposition to companies or companies in the event that they decide that the companies or group of companies have considerably lessened competitors out there. 

What are the various kinds of Anti-Aggressive Behaviour?


A Cartel refers to when a bunch of companies conform to act collectively quite than compete with one another. Cartels are unlawful. There are a selection of unfavourable impacts brought on by cartels, together with the next:

  • Wholesome financial development is restricted
  • Different companies and customers are cheated
  • They trigger costs to be pushed up
  • Cartels triggered a discount in funding and innovation 

In consequence, they preserve the phantasm of competitors whereas driving up the income of cartel members. Sure types of anti-competitive conduct which can be seen as cartel conduct embrace the next:

  • Value fixing
  • Sharing markets
  • Rigging bids
  • Controlling the output or limiting the variety of items and companies obtainable to patrons

In accordance with the ACCC, cartels will be composed of companies of all sizes, resembling massive companies, small companies, native companies and cartels will be shaped between worldwide, nationwide or native companies. The legal guidelines that prohibit cartels are discovered within the CCA, and so they apply to people and all Australian companies which can be concerned in such exercise.

Imposing Minimal Resale costs

With reference to minimal resale costs, suppliers are prohibited from setting minimal costs for resale for the products and companies they supply to companies, as that is unlawful for them to take action, in keeping with the ACCC. 

Subsequently, suppliers should keep away from doing any of the next:

  • Present retailers with discounted costs for promoting at a value larger than the minimal
  • Prescribe minimal costs as a part of formal agreements or insurance policies  
  • Suppliers shouldn’t discriminate in opposition to retailers who promote under the set value, as an example, by eradicating reductions or offering a warning
  • Suppliers shouldn’t refuse to produce items to retailers who promote beneath the minimal value
  • Stress companies with a purpose to cost their set costs; or
  • Forestall resellers from promoting, displaying or promoting the provider’s items under a specific value

In regard to resellers, it’s unlawful for them to ask suppliers to ask their opponents to promote under a minimal value.

Imposing minimal resale value or ‘ resale value upkeep’ is in opposition to the regulation because it prevents retailers from competing on value, which due to this fact results in elevated costs for customers.

Anti-competitive agreements

Anti-competitive agreements are unlawful in accordance with section 45 of the CCA. This part states that agreements that considerably reduce competitors are unlawful. 

Unique Dealings

Unique dealings seek advice from conditions when two companies are buying and selling, and one enterprise imposes restrictions on the liberty of the opposite enterprise in regard to the next:

  • What the opposite enterprise sells or buys
  • Who the opposite enterprise is allowed to conduct enterprise with
  • The place the opposite enterprise is allowed to commerce

The ACCC states that unique dealings are unlawful after they considerably reduce competitors. Subsequently, it’s authorized if it doesn’t considerably reduce competitors.

Collective Bargaining & Boycotts

Collective bargaining refers to conditions the place opponents come collectively with a purpose to negotiate with a provider or a buyer over phrases, situations and costs. A collective boycott occurs when a bunch of opponents determine to cease shopping for from or promoting to the enterprise that the group is negotiating with. They’ll solely proceed to purchase or promote to the enterprise if the enterprise agrees to the phrases and situations set by the group.

Collective bargaining happens when a bunch collectively agrees to not:

  • Purchase items or companies from the enterprise or
  • To not provide items or companies to the enterprise

In accordance with the ACCC, collective bargaining is prone to breach Australian Competitors regulation. It is because, typically, competitors regulation states that companies should make their very own selections in regard to phrases, pricing, situations and enterprise companions.

Misuse of market energy

Normally, a enterprise having or utilizing its market energy with a purpose to outcompete others isn’t unlawful. Nevertheless, it’s unlawful when a enterprise makes use of its market energy for the aim of considerably lessening competitors. When courts are contemplating whether or not there was a misuse of market energy, they think about the next:

  • Whether or not the enterprise has substantial market energy
  • Whether or not the enterprise is partaking in conduct for the aim, impact or possible impact of considerably lessening competitors

When the ACCC is figuring out whether or not a enterprise has substantial market energy, they think about the next elements:

Cooperation between companies

As a consequence of competitors being depending on the unbiased selections made by companies, cooperation between companies can probably breach competitors regulation. The ACCC states that considerably lessening competitors by contracts, preparations, or understandings is illegitimate. Moreover, it’s additionally unlawful for companies to create different types of communication or cooperation that considerably reduce competitors, resembling cooperations that don’t contain any understanding, settlement or contract. 

Unconscionable Conduct

This refers to conduct that’s so harsh that it goes in opposition to good conscience. The definition is so normal as a result of there is no such thing as a exact definition of unconscionable conduct by regulation. Unconscionable enterprise behaviour is deemed as behaviour that’s harsh or oppressive and past laborious business bargaining.

Value Signalling

Value signalling refers to when companies agree on a hard and fast value as a substitute of competing. It is a type of cartel conduct and is due to this fact unlawful if it leads to considerably lessened competitors. 

Predatory Pricing

Predatory pricing refers to when a enterprise that has substantial market energy gives a really low value to customers for its items and companies for an extended time frame. Predatory pricing will be unlawful as a result of it has the potential to considerably reduce competitors out there. Predatory pricing goals to realize the next for a enterprise:

  • Inducing opponents to go away the market
  • Punishing or harming opponents that competed aggressively
  • Stopping potential opponents from becoming a member of the market

Predatory pricing is illegitimate in keeping with Section 46 of the CCA prohibits an organization with a considerable diploma of energy in a market from partaking in conduct that has the aim or impact of considerably lessening competitors in that or another market. This consists of predatory pricing.

How does the Australian Competitors and Shopper Fee regulate anti-competitive behaviour?

The ACCC does the next to deal with anti-competitive behaviour in Australia:

  • The ACCC investigates probably unlawful anti-competitive behaviour
  • Promotes and protects market competitors
  • The ACCC gives companies with info in regard to their obligations pursuant to the legal guidelines associated to competitors
  • The ACCC enforces the regulation in relation to anti-competitive behaviour by taking motion in opposition to companies breaking the regulation

Nevertheless, try to be conscious that the ACCC doesn’t get straight concerned in disputes between companies or present authorized recommendation to companies.

Regularly Requested Questions (FAQs)

Why is aggressive behaviour essential for companies?

Competitors between companies is essential as a result of following optimistic impacts:

  • On account of competitors, companies are compelled to be revolutionary and enhance their effectivity
  • Decrease costs for customers
  • Companies and merchandise of a better commonplace
  • Customers have extra choices
  • A rise in prosperity and welfare for all Australians

How are you going to report anti-competitive behaviour?

Everybody has the power to report anti-competitive enterprise behaviour to the ACCC. The steps on how to make a complaint as a business are outlined by the ACCC. The three steps are as follows:

  1. Contacting the provider in regard to the problems associated to the companies or items which have been provided to you. It’s really useful that you just define the problems that you’ve with the companies or items in writing
  2. Contacting the ACC or one other third celebration that will help you resolve your challenge with the provider. In case your grievance is in regard to unlawful anti-competitive behaviour by one other enterprise, you must get in contact with the ACCC. You too can contact the ACCC in regard to points you will have with items which have been provided to you in addition to Industry ombudsmen and dispute resolution schemes and state and territory consumer protection agencies
  3. In case your challenge remains to be unresolved after contacting the ACCC or one other third celebration, you may take authorized motion. Earlier than you are taking this step, you must rent a lawyer for authorized recommendation to see whether or not authorized motion is required. Authorized motion will be costly, and success is just not assured

What behaviour can be thought of to be authorized?

If your online business behaviour is reputable, it’s extremely not like that your online business might be breaking the regulation. Competitors on honest phrases is suitable so long as a enterprise doesn’t prohibit its competitor, whatever the hurt it could trigger to a competitor’s enterprise. The next behaviour can be thought of to be authorized behaviour in keeping with the ACCC:

  • Bettering services or products or inventing new ones by investing in analysis
  • Making sincere and correct claims in promoting their services or products with a purpose to acquire prospects
  • Decreasing prices by optimising their processes
  • Creating new merchandise that  trigger a market to be disrupted
  • Providing decrease costs in response to cost competitors
  • Beginning a brand new enterprise that’s much like one other enterprise in a close-by location

It’s not unlawful to interact in such behaviour as a result of it advantages customers and the financial system.

Are you able to search an exemption from behaviour which may represent as anti-competitive behaviour?

What you are promoting can search an exemption from behaviour that’s probably anti-competitive and would due to this fact breach competitors regulation from the ACCC. If your online business is supplied with the exemption, it’s protected against any authorized motion being introduced in opposition to it in relation to the association or conduct. Try to be conscious that the ACCC solely gives exemptions for behaviour that’s within the public’s curiosity and for behaviour that doesn’t considerably reduce competitors.

What are the implications of anti-competitive behaviour?

As a consequence of anti-competitive behaviour breaching Part IV of the CCA, there are authorized penalties. Try to be conscious that the utmost penalty for an organization that breaches Half IV of the CCA is a advantageous of $50,000,000. Whereas the utmost penalty for a person breaching Half IV is  $2,500,000.

Extra particularly, if a person is discovered to be collaborating in a cartel, they will resist 10 years of jail or obtain a advantageous of as much as 2000 penalty models. If an organization is discovered to be collaborating in a secondary boycott, it will possibly face penalties of as much as $750,000 


In conclusion, anti-competitive behaviour is illegitimate as a result of it’s unfair to considerably restrict competitors in a market. In the event you’re involved as a result of a competitor is collaborating in anti-competitive behaviour, you must rent a lawyer for authorized recommendation to find out whether or not they’re behaving in an anti-competitive method.

Contrastingly, if you’re not sure whether or not your online business is behaving in an anti-competitive approach, you must rent a lawyer for authorized recommendation with the intention to keep away from the authorized penalties related to anti-competitive behaviour.