Thursday, March 14, 2019
Changing South Africa's Competition Law Regime: A Populist Departure from International Best Practices
ABSTRACT: The Amendment Bill alters key provisions of the South African Competition Act focusing specifically on the redistribution of wealth and transformation of ownership in lieu of pursuing traditional antitrust goals.
The Bill provides for greater ministerial intervention at the initial stage of a merger (based on national security), during the merger investigation (based on public-interest grounds) and broadens the right of appeals to parties outside the merger control review.
The Bill lowers the standard that the South African Competition Commission must meet to prosecute cases and foreshadows a risk of increased third-party interventionism more generally.
The departure from a traditional substantial lessening of competition (SLC) test to an adverse effects-based test, which takes public interests considerations into account, is likely to result in the injection of greater subjectivity into the decision-making process and parties’ increased difficulty in self-assessment of conduct particularly in relation to dominant firms.