Government reviewing competition laws

Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Paul Goldsmith has released an issues paper seeking feedback on whether the law protecting consumers from anti-competitive behaviour by businesses is working well.

“Rules governing the misuse of market power are set out in the Commerce Act,” Goldsmith says in a statement.

“The Government is taking a closer look at specific sections of this Act to determine whether they are working as they should or whether any aspects need to be changed.
“Competition is vital to any healthy economy. It protects consumers, provides lower prices, better quality, and choice. It also encourages businesses to innovate and adapt their products and services, which can help us better compete on the world stage.

“New Zealand is a relatively small and remote economy and has several markets where a few large companies dominate. This is why we need to make sure that our law is fit-for-purpose, promoting healthy competition and acting as a check on anti-competitive behaviour.

“Some businesses do have a lot of market power, and it’s important to remember that this in itself is not illegal. But what they can’t do is take advantage of that power in a way that reduces competition in the market. This is set out in Section 36 of the Commerce Act which prohibits the misuse of market power.”

The Issues Paper, out for consultation until 5pm, February 9, 2016, asks questions about the prohibition on the misuse of market power as well as:

  • Out-of-court enforcement mechanisms, such as the cease and desist regime, available to the Commerce Commission since 2001.
  • Whether new powers are needed for the Commerce Commission, or some other agency, to do specific market studies when needed, to analyse competition and improve market performance.

The issues paper and submissions process can be viewed at:

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