One such anticipated change is an increase in the number of merger notifications, due to the fact that some mergers (affecting Ireland and the UK) which were previously notified to the European Commission, may now be separately notified to Ireland and the UK.
The competition watchdog continued to “adjust and expand to meet increased responsibilities and challenges, particularly in preparation for the impact of Brexit”, chair Isolde Goggin writes in the CCPC’s 2019 annual report.
“The CCPC has recruited staff to ensure that the organisation is prepared to deal with the expected increase in the number and complexity of merger notifications,” she says.
2019 was a “particularly significant year” for the merger regime in Ireland, with the first criminal conviction in Ireland for gun-jumping.
Putting into effect a merger without the proper clearance (gun-jumping) is not only a criminal offence, but it also means that the merger is void, under the law.
New financial thresholds for mergers also took effect on 1 January, and the CCPC commenced the detailed design phase of a simplified merger procedure.
Public liability insurance
The CCPC also began a market study in the public liability insurance market, following a request by business minister Heather Humphreys.
The CCPC investigated potential bid-rigging in the procurement of publicly-funded transport services in certain parts of Munster and Leinster and submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
It also made “significant progress” in investigations in the motor insurance and ticketing sectors.
The watchdog examined 75 shipping consignments, holding 663,000 items, referred by customs officials.
Of these, 152,883 products were either re-exported or sent for destruction.
The CCPC also probed the sale of clocked or crashed cars. This resulted in court convictions, compensation orders and compliance notices.
It also inspected 103 traders for compliance with consumer protection laws, which resulted in 32 fixed payment notices and 16 compliance notices being issued to traders.