Things To Think About

Evidence of misconduct by 7-Eleven franchisees continues to mount, maintaining public interest in the laws of civil and criminal liability of franchisors for franchisee conduct.

Over in the US, the rise of ‘botnets’ to commit crime has forced some re-thinking of existing criminal procedure, particularly around search warrant application.  The nationwide, and therefore cross-jurisdictional, behaviour of US botnets has posed significant difficulties for the federal system, prompting some to describe botnets as “too big to investigate”.  Some of these issues are directly relevant to the investigation of cross-jurisidictional (but intra-national) corporate conduct in federal nations.

Notable Litigation Actions

The ACCC’s new civil pecuniary penalty litigation against ANZ and Macquarie for attempted cartel conduct (admitted by the defendants) is notable because, as Chairman Rod Sims noted, it serves as “a reminder that Australian cartel laws apply to financial markets, and capture cartel conduct by firms that carry on business in Australia, regardless of where that conduct occurred”.

Law & Policy Updates

“New laws commencing on 30 November [in Victoria] will ban fuel retailers from displaying discounted fuel prices that are only available to the consumer if they have specific shopper dockets.”

The Attorney-General has announced that, upon the retirement of the Honourable Justice Robert French AC on 29 January 2017 as Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, he will appoint the Honourable Justice Susan Mary Kiefel AC as the next Chief Justice of the court.  The appointment creates a vacancy on the bench; the Honourable Justice James Joshua Edelman will be appointed to the High Court to complete the bench.

The Standing Committee on Economics tabled its First Report of its review of the four major banks this fortnight.  The committee considers, among other things, that “Australians should be able to trust that their bank will act in their best interests when they turn to them [sic] for help”, “[w]hen consumers are continually let down, senior executives should go”, and “when things do go wrong, consumers and small businesses need one place to go where disputes can be quickly and easily handled.”  Dissenting reports are annexed to the document.  Stay tuned for the Government’s response.  Further public hearings with the major banks are scheduled for early 2017.  For a look at how similar reviews are unfolding in the UK, consider the FCA’s response to the CMA’s report on competition in the banking sector.

Event Calendar

15 December 2016, 12-1pm: The AIC and ACCC are co-hosting a seminar, “There’s a scam out there for everyone -An examination of tricks employed by scammers in work–at-home and romance scams”.  Register here.

The ACCC is seeking comments on its proposal to deny authorisation for banks to collectively bargain with Apple on Apple Pay.