Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa
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Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa

Thieves at the Dinner Table

David Lewis

Enforcing Competition Rules in South Africa is a clear and insightful account of the establishment and first decade of one of the most successful competition law institutions to have mushroomed over the past 15 years. David Lewis believes that, while there is much to learn from international scholarship and jurisprudence and from participation in the various multinational initiatives in this field, competition law and its institutions have to be understood within their national economic and social contexts.
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Chapter 1: Beginnings

Thieves at the Dinner Table

David Lewis


When I sat down in front of my computer, setting out to tell the story of South Africa’s competition institutions and confronted by a blank screen headed ‘Chapter 1’, the only opening sentence that came to mind – and this after chairing the Competition Tribunal for 10 years and writing many thousands of words on the subject of competition – was that which opens so many junior school essays: ‘It was a dark and stormy night …’ But, strange to tell, this may well be an appropriate opening for the story that I want to recount. At the time that this tale begins, darkness or, at least, secretiveness and a profound lack of accountability did indeed mark the workings of the South African business sector. Storminess did not characterise inter-corporate relations – indeed the marked absence of storminess or, conversely, the perceived cosiness that characterised these relations was precisely the problem that the new competition policy was expected to confront. However, a definite element of inclemency was provided by the nature of the interface between a new government and an old business establishment whose relationship, certainly at that time, may euphemistically be described as one of mutual suspicion, marked by fairly regular bouts of considerable turbulence. In the eye of that particular storm was the stated intention of the new government and its allies in the trade union movement to introduce a robust competition policy, centred on a new antitrust statute. I vividly recall a conference on competition policy held sometime in 1994

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