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Competition Law Reading Room

Anti-Cartel Advocacy - How Has the ACCC Fared?

Caron Beaton-Wells
(2011) 33 Sydney Law Review 735



The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been an active advocate for anti-cartel law and enforcement over the past decade. In particular, it has led a campaign in support of criminal sanctions for cartel conduct. Until now, there has been no empirical evidence of the effectiveness of the ACCC’s advocacy insofar as the general public is concerned. This article reports on the results from a large-scale survey of the Australian public conducted in 2010. It provides unique insights into whether the Australian public consider that price fixing, market allocation and output restriction should be illegal and whether they should be a criminal offence; whether sanctions for such conduct should apply to companies or individuals or both, and what types and levels of penalties and remedies should apply; whether a policy of immunity for the first company to self-report is seen as acceptable; and whether the public regard cartel conduct as serious relative to other crimes, the bases on which they regard it as serious and the extent to which their perceptions of its seriousness are affected by a range of contextual factors. The article draws on the results to evaluate critically the extent to which the ACCC has influenced public opinion concerning cartels and anti-cartel law and enforcement.



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