On September 18, 2023, Bill C-352, which was introduced by Jagmeet Singh (leader of the NDP), had its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Singh Bill”). On September 21, 2023, Bill C-56, which was introduced by Chrystia Freeland (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance), also received its first reading in the House of Commons (the “Government Bill”). Each of these bills includes significant proposed amendments to the Competition Act in response to the ongoing public consultation and legislation review process regarding competition policy in Canada.

While each of the bills share some similarities (including, for example, the introduction of market study powers and removal of the efficiencies defence), the bills include a number of different proposals and the Singh Bill includes overall more substantive recommendations for amendments to Canada’s existing competition law regime.Continue Reading Proposed Amendments to the Competition Act receive first reading in House of Commons

On 17 June 2015, the Competition Appeal Court of South Africa (CAC) overturned the Competition Tribunal’s decision which found Sasol Chemical Industries Limited (Sasol) guilty of excessive pricing.

The CAC’s judgment is thorough and the factual, legal, accounting and economic issues covered are complicated. Although redeeming for Sasol, the judgment may give rise to a number of significant implications for future enforcement action against excessive pricing South Africa.

We set out below a review of the questions raised in the decision as well as the potential implications of the CAC’s answers.

The feedstock debate – Actual costs or notional costs?1

The first and potentially most important question addressed by the CAC related to what the CAC referred to as the ‘feedstock debate’. According to the Competition Act2 , a price charged by a dominant firm is excessive and illegal if it has no reasonable relation to the economic value of the product in question.

In conditions of competition, prices will normally be driven down towards a firm’s costs of production (plus a reasonable return). A firm’s costs (including a reasonable return) therefore usually provide an insightful proxy for the price that would prevail under conditions of competition, and therefore a product’s ‘economic value’.

In the only previous excessive pricing case in South Africa, the Mittal case, the CAC held:

economic value is a notional objective market standard, not one derived from circumstances peculiar to the particular firm… The criterion of economic value…recognizes only the costs that would be recovered in long run competitive equilibrium3.

Sasol has a peculiar cost advantage because it procures its feedstock propylene from its sister company – Sasol Synfuels – at a low internal transfer price. Feedstock propylene is a critical input in the production of purified propylene, which is then converted into polypropylene.

One of the key questions in the Sasol case was how
Continue Reading The Sasol appeal – developing or dismissing excessive pricing law in South Africa?