IBEC concern over Competition Act

THE country's main employer body IBEC has expressed serious concern that the stronger powers given to the Competition Authority are draconian in their implications.

Last year the CA carried out 18 dawn raids on Irish companies suspected of being involved in price fixing cartels.

If guilty offenders face jail. Ireland is the only country in Europe where cartel fixing is a jailable offence, said Marie Daly, assistant director IBEC.

Ireland is now one of just two (UK law recently followed Irish lead) countries in Europe which criminalise anti competitive activity.

The Competition Act 2002 has major implications for Irish businesses, big and small. We now have more onerous liabilities for company executives a new self assessment regime for business agreements a completely new merger control regime with more elaborate procedures and much greater emphasis on economic analysis than in the past a Competition Authority with enhanced investigative powers.

She added that people can breach competition law in very simple ways.

She gave the following examples:

Shop owner tells his competitors of his intention to raise the price of certain products a month before he intends to do so - he figures they'll probably follow his example

Factory manager meets colleague from only other competitor at a local football match. Both factories are suffering from depressed sales and the lads agree to keep margins at a certain percentage to tide them for a few months. Both agree not to undercut the other.

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