ACCC’s 2015 priorities

Cartel conduct in government procurement, truth in advertising, competition and consumer issues in the health sector and industry codes are some of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's (ACCC) new compliance and enforcement priorities for 2015.

Launching the 2015 edition of the ACCC's compliance and enforcement policy, chairman Rod Sims said ACCC will be seeking to emphasise that the size of penalties in particular cases must be sufficient to provide appropriate deterrence.

This follows commentary that the recent $11 million penalty against Flight Centre was "immaterial" and statements by Justice Gordon that the penalties available against Coles for unconscionable conduct were "arguably inadequate".

Sims said competition and consumer issues in highly concentrated sectors will remain a priority and that the Coles unconscionable conduct outcome sets a benchmark which can be applied to other sectors.

He also added that both competition and consumer issues in the medical and health sector need increased attention.

As part of the new compliance priorities, the ACCC will concentrate on emerging consumer issues in the online marketplace to ensure the rights and obligations that exist in the “bricks and mortar” world are not ignored online.

In the area of improving product safety, Sims confirmed ACCC will seek to minimise the supply of unsafe goods by focusing on good practice in the manufacture, importing and quality assurance of consumer products.

As well as bedding down changes to the franchising code of conduct, the introduction of a code of conduct to address unfair practices in the grocery sector will be a major focus in 2015.

Further details can be found here.