The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is to hold a series of public consultations in the coming months on a range of new policies and guidelines it will need to adopt.
The competition body has welcomed the recent publication of legislation that would give it more powers to enforce European and Irish competition law.
The Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 includes provisions for maximum fines of up to €10 million, or 10% of total worldwide turnover, for breaches of competition law.
The commission’s chair Jeremy Godfrey said that, under the legislation, the body would be able, for the first time, to fine companies for breaches of competition law – such as cartels, bid-rigging and abusive market practices.
“We will also be able to encourage whistleblowing on secret cartels, by offering reductions in fines to companies that provide evidence against other cartel members,” he added.
The CCPC chair said that similar powers had proved to be “a significant deterrent” against breaches of competition law in other EU states.
New powers on fines
The commission pointed out that, now, Ireland was one of a very small number of European countries that allowed a company to be fined only if a court found that there had been a breach proven to a criminal standard.
“This bill provides that fines can now be imposed for breaches of Irish and EU competition law on an administrative basis,” it said.
The first consultation on the CCPC’s new policies and guidelines will begin on 14 February, and will consider:
- An administrative-leniency policy,
- Guidance notes on interaction between the cartel-immunity programme and the administrative-leniency policy, and
- A guidance note on the choice(s) of enforcement regime(s) for breaches of competition law.
The new bill transposes an EU directive known as the ECN+ Directive into Irish law. This directive is aimed at ensuring that national competition authorities have guarantees of independence, sufficient resources, and appropriate powers of enforcement to tackle breaches of EU law.