On 15 November 2012, the ACCC released its quarterly report for the period 1 July 2012 – 30 September 2012. The report provides a snapshot of the regulator’s administrative and enforcement activities in key areas such as fair trading and consumer protection, mergers and authorisations, anti-competitive conduct and market failure.
The ACCC has made full use of its suite of enforcement tools, issuing four court enforceable undertakings, receiving payment of four infringement notices and securing over $6.8 million in court penalties in relation to fair trading and consumer protection cases. Particularly noteworthy was the $2 million penalty awarded against Energy Watch in July for misleading advertising about energy savings and the $2.5 million penalty awarded against EDirect for misleading and deceptive conduct in relation to mobile phone contracts in indigenous communities.
The September quarter also saw the ACCC complete twenty-four merger reviews, make nine final authorisation determinations and commence four proceedings in the Federal Court. The ACCC continued international air cartel proceedings against a range of big name airlines, with the High Court dismissing an appeal by PT Garuda for immunity under the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985 (Cth).
In response to the report, Chairman Rod Sims stated that ‘a particular recent focus has been enforcement of the new Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Total penalties awarded under the ACL are now $19.42 million since it commenced in January 2011.’