Edited by Albert A. Foer and Jonathan W. Cuneo
Brooke Dellavedova, Vince Morabito and Brendan Sweeney1 Introduction Private actions for breaches of competition law have been available in Australia since 1975 when the Trade Practices Act came into force.2 The Trade Practices Act is the cornerstone of a competition law system that is designed (so far as permitted by the Constitution) to be national in scope and application. As a result, the same substantive competition provisions apply federally and in the states to the vast majority of business entities (including public entities to the extent that they are engaged in carrying on a business). The substantive provisions cover horizontal and vertical arrangements, as well as unilateral conduct. In keeping with the aim to create a national scheme, most private actions are decided in the federal courts.3 The overall legislative aim of Australian competition law is to enhance the welfare of Australians through the promotion of competition. The regulator is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Class actions are a relatively new phenomenon in Australian antitrust enforcement.4 Only one antitrust class action has been successfully concluded to date,5 against the global vitamins price-fixing cartel. In 2006 settlement was approved in the sum of AUD30.5 million plus costs. A wide range of businesses, from small-scale livestock producers to large animal nutrition companies, received average compensation of AUD143,000, generally regarded as an excellent result. At the time of writing, there are three further antitrust class actions pending, all involving price cartels.6 1 Brooke Dellavedova is a Principal, Maurice Blackburn,...
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