After a relatively successful decade under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry, responsibility for the Competition Act will, from 1 April 2010, be transferred from the Ministry of Trade and Industry to the newly created Ministry of Economic Development.
It remains to be seen whether the move will herald a significant change in approach or whether it will be business as usual under the new Ministry. In the meanwhile, the logistics of a departmental shift is expected to further delay the implementation of the Competition Amendment Act, which is not yet in force. Besides getting up to speed on existing regulations and structures, the Minister of Economic Development will presumably have the added responsibility of promulgating further regulations pursuant to the amendments to be introduced. These amendments include controversial provisions relating to individual criminal liability for directors and management of companies involved in cartel conduct, as well as the inscrutable complex monopoly provisions.
The move is likely to amplify the role of the competition authorities in the broader economy and it might be speculated that under the hand of Minister Patel, an increased level of policy-driven investigations may be the result.
Chris Charter, Director, Competition
Scarlate Nkiwane, Associate, Competition