The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has warned businesses that despite economic challenges, they must act independently in their commercial decisions, especially when setting prices and charges.
The warning comes on the back of engagement between the CCPC and a number of trade associations after they made public statements about new potential charges and price increases, which their members may apply.
The Commission also reminded businesses that they have additional responsibilities under consumer protection law, when setting new or additional fees, or making changes to business practices.
It said the practice of trade associations suggesting future prices, or coordinating ways of passing on costs to consumers, could constitute an infringement of competition law.
Isolde Goggin, chair of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, said the CCPC is acutely aware of the new challenges that businesses across the country are facing at this time due to Covid-19.
But she said that businesses must be mindful that the rules set out by competition law remain unchanged.
“Whilst the CCPC recognises the importance of businesses and representative bodies working collaboratively in such unprecedented circumstances, it’s important for them to know that competition law still applies, even during a global pandemic,” Ms Goggin said.
“We remind all representative bodies that they must not attempt to co-ordinate the pricing decisions of their members. To do so could be detrimental to consumers and in breach of competition law,” she stated.
“As the economy starts to re-open, we are closely monitoring the activities of businesses and similar representative organisations and, if necessary, the CCPC will take appropriate action to deter or stop any potentially anti-competitive behaviour,” she cautioned.
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