On Thursday, 12 July 2018, the Minister of Economic Development introduced the Competition Amendment Bill 23 of 2018 (the Bill) to Parliament. A copy of the Bill can be accessed here.
The swift publication of the revised Bill is another significant step by government to ensure that proposed amendments to the Competition Act 89 of 1998 (the Act) are effected as soon as possible. These extensive amendments mark an era of change for competition law in South Africa and the implications thereof need to be considered by all businesses.
In essence, the Bill seeks to:
- introduce provisions that clarify and improve the determination of prohibited practices;
- strengthen the penalty regime;
- introduce greater flexibility in the granting of exemptions which promote transformation and growth;
- strengthen the role of market inquiries and merger processes in the promotion of competition and economic transformation;
- protect and stimulate the growth of small and medium businesses;
- and introduce a number of procedural changes aimed at enhancing the administration of the Act.
Importantly, the revised Bill introduces a new provision which allows for the National Executive's intervention in respect of mergers that affect the national security interests of South Africa.
The Bill will now be considered and debated by the relevant committees within the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. It is likely that there will also be further opportunities for public participation. It is evident however, that the intention is for the Bill to be passed before the 2019 national elections.
We will continue to keep you updated on all key developments. Please look out for an e-alert providing an in-depth analysis of the Bill early next week.