The Competition Amendment Bill

Competition law master class


The Competition Amendment Bill of 2018 contains the most far reaching set of changes to competition law since the introduction of the 1998 Act. A raft of changes are proposed in respect of excessive pricing, predatory pricing, monopsony power, market inquiries, mergers as well as the introduction of provisions dealing with national security and mergers.

The annual master class presented by UCT Law@work has been designed to address all of these changes and the profound challenges that the Bill will pose both to the competition institution and the competition Bar. The changes proposed to s8 and 9 of the Act will, if implemented, significantly alter existing jurisprudence relating to exploitative and exclusionary practices. In turn this poses challenges concerning the theory of harm that underpins the new wording as well the complex issue of application of the new theory to cases to be brought to the authorities. To this end, the master class will enjoy the benefit of a range of expert economists, both local and international who will provide the expert discussion to explain the implications of these changes.

At the same event, the heads of all three competition institutions will provide their expert views of the proposed changes and how they intend to guard against the  danger of false positives and false negatives. Critical to the vindication of the overall purpose of the Bill is how competition law and policy will respond  to problems of concentration of the South African economy and the effect thereof on meaningful economic participation of SME’s particularly owned by historically disadvantaged South Africans. The main legislative response to this issue is a range of amendments to the law relating to market inquiries. Far reaching remedies are proposed which, inter alia, greatly extend the powers of the Competition Commission and the Minister. To date market inquiries have enjoyed a chequered  record with little perceptible advantages flowing to affected consumers. The master class will benefit significantly from the presentations of Phillip Marsden from the UK Competition and Markets Authority who has vast experience in this area.

Over the past year a number of important decisions have been delivered including on predatory pricing and characterization. There has also been much international debate about cartels and algorithms. The master class is fortunate to have renowned international experts, Prof Ariel Ezrachi, Dr Cristina Caffarra and Mr Greg Harman to analyse these developments.

As has been customary at this event the Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel will be present for an off the record engagement with government’s objectives in introducing this far reaching piece of legislation.

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