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Unilateral practices
Regulating for fairness as well as competition
It may be trite but it is undoubtedly true that laws against anti-competitive conduct, like any laws, are only effective insofar as they influence people to comply with them. Law enforcement authorities are limited in their capacity and resources and rely on most of those who are subject to the law to comply voluntarily with it most of the time. Given this, it is essential to understand the factors that influence compliance with the law. In the field of competition law and enforcement, it is generally assumed that motivations to comply or not comply with the law will be amoral, calculative and primarily, if not exclusively, economic in nature. Scant attention has been paid by authorities or others to the issue of normative compliance (cf Wouter Wils; Christine Parker). Yet it is well established in an impressive body of theoretical and empirical research that normative motivations are also highly instrumental in shaping attitudes and behavior in relation to the law (Tom Tyler’s work on this is particularly compelling). As is pointed out in that research, normative motivation to comply can be based on a belief that a law is just or right in the sense that obeying the law leads to an outcome that fits with moral or ideological values – the firm complies with the law because its managers and employees
Enforcement Institutions/procedure
Australia’s Proposed Supermarket Code: UK Lessons Missed
Australia’s retail grocery sector is among the, if not the, most highly concentrated in the world. The two vertically integrated chains, Coles and Woolworths, enjoy 70% of sales in dry grocery goods and 50% of sales in fresh grocery goods. Self-evidently, this has implications for competition in the sector and in turn for the prices, range and quality of grocery goods available to consumers. The power of the chains affects the business strategies, if not survival, of other grocery retailers and businesses participating in the supply chain directly and indirectly, including primary producers. More generally, supermarket power affects many facets of Australian society, including the social fabric and sustainability of communities, employment opportunities, the environment, public health and animal welfare. Not surprisingly then, the retail grocery sector and the strategies of Coles and Woolworths, in particular, attract a high degree of public interest, regulatory scrutiny and political attention. Consistent with a global trend, the sector has been the subject of a large number of public inquiries and investigations in recent years. A wide ranging Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) investigation into allegations of unfair trading and anti-competitive conduct by the supermarket chains is under way. Concerns relate to various supermarket strategies including with respect to acquisitions, supply chain management, private labels, pricing, advertising and packaging and diversification into other sectors such