ACCC Enforcement and Compliance Project: The Impact of ACCC Enforcement Activity in Cartel Cases

119 Pages Posted: 30 Aug 2004 Last revised: 13 Aug 2014

See all articles by Christine Parker

Christine Parker

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Natalie Stepanenko

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

Paul Ainsworth

Independent

Date Written: May 1, 2004

Abstract

The Centre for Competition and Consumer Policy's (CCCP) Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Enforcement and Compliance Project uses qualitative and quantitative research methods to evaluate the impact of ACCC enforcement strategies on compliance with the Trade Practices Act. This Report provides a preliminary analysis of the compliance impact of ACCC enforcement activity in cartel cases. The Report examines four case studies of significant ACCC cartel enforcement action in detail using empirical evidence from interviews with ACCC staff, lawyers and business people involved in each case, and documentary reports of the case and its impact. The four cases are the Freight, Concrete, Transformers and Queensland Fire Protection cases. Each case was chosen because of its significant impact on industry compliance and on the reputation and effectiveness of the Commission, according to preliminary interviews with ACCC staff. The analysis shows that each case did have significant impacts, but also weaknesses. In all four cases the ACCC followed the same pattern of investigation and enforcement, with relatively minor variations. These are the use of informers and leniency/immunity, the section 155 process for gathering evidence, negotiated settlements of enforcement action, the publicity associated with proceedings, and implementation of compliance programs as a remedy for misconduct. Despite failures in the impact of both the ACCC's deterrent and moral messages, the data suggests that ACCC enforcement activity has significantly influenced a change in social norms in Australian business related to cartel behaviours through a mix of enforcement techniques that have begun to extend a web of control over market behaviour.

Available at http://www.cccp.anu.edu.au/projects/cartelreport.pdf

Keywords: competition, Australia, Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, cartel, enforcement, anti-trust

JEL Classification: K, K1, K19, K21

Suggested Citation

Parker, Christine and Stepanenko, Natalie and Ainsworth, Paul, ACCC Enforcement and Compliance Project: The Impact of ACCC Enforcement Activity in Cartel Cases (May 1, 2004). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=583521 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.583521

Christine Parker (Contact Author)

Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

HOME PAGE: http://law.unimelb.edu.au/about/staff/christine-parker

Natalie Stepanenko

Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ( email )

Dickson, ACT 2602
Australia

Paul Ainsworth

Independent ( email )

No Address Available

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