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ACCC's warning to lawyers: don't test us on cartel laws

ACCC's warning to lawyers: don't test us on cartel laws

Lawyers that second-guess the ACCC about new cartel laws will be brought into account, says the competition and consumer watchdog.

LAWYERS trying to second-guess the ACCC about the line between a goal term and a civil penalty are missing the point about new cartel laws, says the nation's competition and consumer watchdog.

Price-fixing, bid-rigging and restricting outputs may carry a penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment under the new laws, which come into place from 24 July.

The ACCC has revealed how it will investigate cartels under new laws, under which it will hold new powers to intercept telephones and search premises. 

But the watchdog's chairman Graeme Samuel gave a stern warning to lawyers who would attempt to find loopholes for their clients in the new laws. 

"[Lawyers] should simply advise their clients not to participate in any cartel," Samuel said. 

"You do not fix prices, you do not rig bids, you do not allocate customers. This is the kind of conduct which could expose your client to goal. The ACCC will use the full force of the law to bring you to account, either financially or through incarceration."

The Commonwealth director of public prosecutions and the ACCC have signed a memorandum of understanding on their joint approach to cartel offenses. 

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