find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Adelaide CBD · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
Freelance Project Finance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Australia
· Vario are looking for freelance lawyers with experience in project finance ideally within the renewable energy sector
View details
Vario Freelance Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Australia
· We are looking for lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Freelance Construction Lawyers
Category: Construction Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· We are looking for construction lawyers who appreciate the endless possibilities that a freelance career can offer.
View details
Banking Associate - 1-6PQE - Allen & Overy
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: United Kingdom
· Banking Associate - 1-6 PQE - Allen & Overy
View details
Competition Bill should be watered down

Competition Bill should be watered down

A leading competition lawyer believes the Government's attempts to curb price signalling have gone too far.Gilbert + Tobin partner Luke Woodward, who has been touted as a possible successor to…

A leading competition lawyer believes the Government's attempts to curb price signalling have gone too far.

Gilbert + Tobin partner Luke Woodward, who has been touted as a possible successor to ACCC head Graeme Samuel when his current term finishes at the end of July, spoke to Lawyers Weekly about the Competition and Consumer Amendment Bill that was introduced into Parliament by treasurer Wayne Swan in March.

The Bill aims to curb anti-competitive price signalling, paying particular attention to the banking sector. Last week Gilbert + Tobin hosted a forum on price signalling, where the speakers included Woodward, ex-Blake Dawson lawyer David Bradbury, the current parliamentary secretary to the treasurer, former Federal Court judge and deputy president of the Australian Competition Tribunal, Peter Heerey QC, and Professor Stephen King, dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University.

"The per se prohibition is really prone to being too strong, and it ought to have a legitimate business justification defence," Woodward said, by way of taking a brickbat to the proposed legislation. However, he also offered a bouquet on the other hand. "The government has taken on board a lot of the concerns expressed in relation to the earlier exposure draft, and has increased the number of exceptions and included a process of notification to the ACCC, which will provide a much easier process for gaining exemption."

The Federal Government was stung into enacting the Bill after the big four banks in Australia made a series of public statements which anticipated the decision of the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates in November last year. The banks intimated that their cost of funding had gone up and they needed to move above any RBA increase.

The RBA subsequently raised official interest rates by 25 basis points, with the big four banks then raising their standard variable mortgage rates by between 35 and 45 basis points.

Wayne Swan has previously commented that the price signaling measures are "fundamentally about stamping out conspiratorial behaviour by the big banks". Bradbury confirmed the Government's stance at the debate, telling the audience that "the laws will be targeted at the banking sector, where the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has indicated there is strong evidence that anti-competitive price signalling has been occurring".

Bradbury also said the laws will "close an identified gap between Australian competition law and the laws of major international jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union".

"A big question that was asked was 'Is anything untoward with that communication?'" Woodward said. "Would this Bill be able to effectively prohibit that conduct, because there is a legitimate reason why banks are talking to investors, such as they are clarifying what their position is and so forth?

"The parliamentary secretary pointed to advice from the ACCC that this is serious conduct that the law should apply to."

The proposed Bill would make it illegal to provide price-related information to a competitor or disclose information with regard to pricing or commercial strategies for anti-competitive purposes.

Woodward chaired the forum, with Bradbury providing the keynote address and taking questions from the floor. King and Heerey then formed part of a panel discussion that also took questions. A number of well-known lawyers from other firms attended, with Allens Arthur Robinson competition law partner Jacqueline Downes and David Poddar from Allen & Overy asking questions of the panel.

While targeting the banking sector, Bradbury has left open the possibility of the Bill extending its reach to other sectors in the future if it is passed.

Like this story? Read more:

Book commemorates diamond milestone for WA law society

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

Competition Bill should be watered down
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Jan 23 2018
Disrupting traditional archiving and storage methods
Promoted by Fileman TRENDS COME and go but technology and its disruption to the legal landscape h...
Scales of Justice
Jan 23 2018
WA to close ‘legal loophole’ on gender reassignment laws
Laws in Western Australia will soon change to permit married people to undergo gender reassignment s...
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
Jan 22 2018
Lawyers take to Twitter to share career stories
The #mypathtolaw hashtag has been embraced by legal eagles to swap stories with the Twitter communit...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...