Competition law in South Africa is governed by the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998 (Competition Act). The Competition Act applies to all economic activity within, or having an effect within, South Africa. The Competition Act regulates restrictive horizontal and vertical practices, abuses of dominance and merger control. The competition authorities have, since April 2013, had the authority to conduct market inquiries and have in fact already initiated market enquiries into the Health and Liquefied Petroleum Gas markets.
No firm may engage in cartel conduct (price-fixing, market allocation or collusive tendering) and minimum resale price maintenance. Any other horizontal or vertical practices may be prohibited if their anti-competitive effect outweighs any pro-competitive gain.
South Africa has a Corporate Leniency Policy where a cartel member may be given immunity for its participation in a cartel upon fulfilling certain requirements. This policy applies to firms and not individuals involved in cartel conduct. Civil and criminal sanctions for individuals involved in cartel conduct have been introduced by the Amendment Act, No. 1 of 2009 (Amendment Act). The Amendment Act is signed, but not yet in force.
Dominant firms may not charge an excessive price, refuse to give a competitor access to an essential facility or engage in any other exclusionary act where the anti-competitive effect of that act outweighs any pro-competitive gain. Dominant firms may also not engage in prohibited price discrimination.
Exemptions from the Competition Act may be granted in limited circumstances. Parties need to apply for an exemption.
Firms that contravene the Competition Act may face administrative penalties of up to 10% of turnover in South Africa and exports from South Africa for the firm's preceding financial year.
A merger (as defined) may require mandatory notification to the competition authorities if the merger meets prescribed financial thresholds. The South African merger assessment has unique public interest considerations. These look at many factors including: particular sectors or regions, employment, small businesses and historically disadvantaged persons.
“The Competition Act regulates restrictive horizontal and vertical practices, abuses of dominance and merger control.”
For a comprehensive document outlining the implications of this area of law in South Africa