The ACCC is proposing to develop a ‘class exemption’ that would provide legal protection for:
- businesses with an annual turnover of less than $10 million in the preceding financial year to collectively bargain with customers or suppliers, and
- all franchisees and fuel retailers to collectively bargain with their franchisor or fuel wholesaler respectively regardless of their size or other characteristics
without them having to apply to the ACCC.
A class exemption is a way for the ACCC to grant businesses an exemption from competition law for certain ‘classes of conduct’ that may otherwise carry a risk of breaching competition laws, but:
- do not substantially lessen competition, and/or
- are likely to result in overall public benefits.
This class exemption relates to collective bargaining, which is a process that allows competing businesses, such as farmers or retailers, to jointly negotiate with customers or suppliers over common issues (e.g. terms, conditions and/or prices). While collective bargaining may ordinarily breach competition laws, a class exemption would provide a ‘safe harbour’ for eligible businesses to collectively bargain without breaching the competition law. It would operate alongside the ACCC’s existing ‘authorisation’ and ‘notification’ processes, which a business that falls outside the class exemption could still use to seek legal protection on a case-by-case basis.
In June/July 2019, the ACCC conducted public consultation on a draft version of the class exemption and associated documents. The submissions received are available below.
The ACCC will now consider submissions and make a final decision about the class exemption.
Initial public consultation
|ACCC Discussion Paper - Collective Bargaining Class Exemption ( PDF 367.03 KB )||23 Aug 2018|