Information from the ACCC

Closes 19 Nov 2022

Opened 19 Nov 2021

Overview

The ACCC has become aware of a number of posts and comments between members of the Bricklayers Perth Private Facebook Group which could risk breaching the competition laws in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (the CCA).

The posts and comments of concern appear, on their face, to agree prices for bricklaying services, encourage the increasing of rates and facilitate the sharing of pricing information.

The ACCC has requested the administrator of the group to review the content and remove any previous posts about pricing which may raise concerns under the CCA, and to moderate the page going forward consistent with the information set out in this notice.

You should read the information set out below which explains the type of conduct which may raise concerns under the CCA, and warns against such conduct, to prevent exposing you to potential enforcement action by the ACCC.

The ACCC

The ACCC’s role includes administering the CCA to enhance the welfare of Australians by promoting competition, fair trading and consumer protection.

The CCA

The CCA prohibits a range of anti-competitive conduct between businesses, including cartel conduct and concerted practices:

Cartel conduct can occur when two or more competitors make (or attempt to make) a contract or arrangement, or reach (or attempt to reach) an understanding, which:

  • fixes, maintains or control prices of goods or services;
  • restricts output or the provision of goods or services;
  • allocates customers; and/or
  • rigs tender bids.

Cartel conduct is prohibited under both criminal and civil law.

Concerted practices are a type of coordination between competing businesses that replaces competition. A concerted practice involves communication or cooperative behaviour between businesses that may not amount to cartel conduct (forming an understanding) but goes beyond a business independently responding to market conditions.

Most commonly, concerted practices will involve a pattern of cooperative behaviour or communications between two or more businesses.

More information about cartel conduct, concerted practices and other types of anticompetitive conduct is on the ACCC’s website at https://www.accc.gov.au/business/anti-competitive-behaviour.

Practical tips when engaging with your competitors

  • Make sure that you are familiar with the CCA.
  • Think carefully about who you are, or may be, in competition with, especially if sub-contracting is involved.
  • Do not agree prices, discounts or any matters relating to price with your competitors.
  • Do not agree to restrict your outputs in any way, or to allocate customers or geographic markets with your competitors.
  • Do not exchange pricing details or plans, how much you plan to produce in the future, customer information or which markets you sell into with your competitors.
  • If you are approached by another business to discuss making arrangements regarding pricing, customers, or bidding you should raise an objection straight away and bring this to the attention of the ACCC.

Reporting and Questions

If you are aware of this type of conduct, you can report it anonymously online at: https://accc-cartels.whispli.com/cartels.

For any questions regarding this information notice, to make an inquiry, or lodge a complaint, please contact the ACCC's Infocentre online at https://www.accc.gov.au/contact-us/contact-the-accc/make-an-enquiry or phone 1300 302 021.

Audiences

  • Small business

Interests

  • Competition issues