Friday, 09 April 2021 11:30

NZ Commerce Commission revises cartel leniency, immunity policy Featured

Anna Rawlings, Commerce Commission Chair Anna Rawlings, Commerce Commission Chair

New Zealand’s competition enforcement agency, The Commerce Commission, has issued a revised cartel leniency and immunity policy and revised template leniency agreement.

The cartel leniency and immunity policy has been updated to reflect changes to the Commission’s cartel leniency policy resulting from the introduction of the new criminal cartel offence which came into effect on 8 April.

As reported earlier by iTWire, the Commerce Commision has got tougher on the country’s cartels, with cartel conduct - including price fixing, market allocation and bid rigging - now punishable with a term of imprisonment of up to 7 years.

“The Commission will continue to consider applications for leniency in relation to civil proceedings for cartel conduct. However, only the Solicitor-General can grant immunity from criminal prosecution,” Commerce Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.

“Our updated Cartel Leniency and Immunity Policy explains how the Commission will continue to grant leniency in respect of civil proceedings, and how it will make recommendations to the Solicitor-General to grant immunity from criminal prosecution for cartel offences.”

The Commission says the Solicitor-General has revised its
Guidelineson immunity from prosecution for cartel offences, which set out the criteria the Solicitor-General will consider in deciding whether to grant immunity.

The Commission can grant leniency to the first member of a cartel to approach it, provided that individual or firm meets the requirements for leniency - but the Commission will not take civil proceedings for cartel conduct against an individual or firm that has been granted leniency if they fully cooperate with the Commission's investigation and proceedings. 

“The Commission has received helpful feedback from domestic and international parties during our consultation process,” said Rawlings.

“One of the key pieces of feedback was a request to provide more clarity around the interaction between civil leniency applications and criminal immunity applications. We have endeavoured to address this feedback in the policy where possible after further discussion with Crown Law.”

The Commission is holding an online-only seminar at 12pm on Wednesday 14 April to outline the key changes made to the policy, and participants can join the webinar
via this link.

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