ACCC urges agencies to be wary of cartel laws

By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Wednesday, 03 November, 2021

ACCC urges agencies to be wary of cartel laws

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is warning public sector agencies to be wary of the risk of breaching cartel laws during procurement processes following a recent investigation.

During the investigation, the ACCC found that departmental processes contemplated cooperation by competing businesses on government tenders.

ACCC Chair Rod Sims said the regulator’s experiences during the investigation suggest that many agencies may not be sufficiently aware of the risk of breaching cartel laws during procurement processes.

“Cartel conduct by businesses tendering in a public sector procurement process is illegal, just as such conduct is illegal in the context of a private sector tender,” Sims said.

“Encouraging businesses to discuss their bids with each other, or to make agreements about who will bid for a particular tender, is likely to amount to cartel conduct, which is against the law. Cartel activities may start with a small encouragement or an innocent remark, but this can create an environment that enables, condones or facilitates collusive conduct between competing firms.”

Sims said it is important for public sector procurement professionals to maintain a familiarity with their obligations under Australian competition laws.

“We encourage public sector procurement professionals to proactively review their procurement processes and identify and remedy any potentially anti-competitive elements in any procurement procedures, policies or guidelines.”

Image credit: © Vodolazskyi

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