Partners at a major Melbourne law firm have come out in support of the proposed changes to competition law.
Two Arnold Bloch Leibler partners have welcomed the proposed changes released in the Harper Review’s final report last week.
The firm, which was heavily involved in advocating changes, has said the changes will provide businesses with greater certainty.
Partners Matthew Lees and Zaven Mardirossian’s submissions to the Review were referenced in the final report more than any other law firm. Changes to the cartel laws, expanding the joint venture defence and reasonable limitations on the power of the ACCC to demand documents were among the firm’s most significant suggestions.
“What we see as one of the most important changes is the redrafting of the convoluted cartel laws which are extremely difficult for businesses to work within,” said Lees, indicating that the proposed changes to the cartel laws are important to the everyday compliance of businesses.
“The drafting is too technical and it’s not based on the fundamental principles of competition law; it instead tries to draft things in a very detailed and technical fashion and that makes it very difficult for businesses.”
Lees also said that the proposed changes to the joint venture defence would benefit the Australian competition market and regulations applied to Australian businesses should be applied to businesses outside Australia. Companies that face unfair competition from low-cost, unsafe and cheap imports will benefit from the changes.
“We also welcome the proposal that the Act would apply more broadly to businesses that are located outside Australia; at the moment there is a business residency test but the proposal is that the laws should apply more broadly to businesses that are not resident in Australia,” he said.
Despite the controversy, Lees said the changes will support businesses and will benefit consumers.
“The review has recommended a wide range of important changes and I’m hoping that despite all of the controversy about the misuse of market power proposal, that the wide range of recommendations will still get the attention that they deserve because there are a number of very important issues and proposals in the report that would significantly improve competition law.”