Thursday, June 26, 2008

ACCC Guidelines for Conferences


The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) tries to conduct conferences in relation to draft notices as informally, flexibly and speedily as possible.

An interested party attending a conference may have the assistance of outside legal or other professional advisers, however, they are not entitled to participate in the discussion.

The conference will serve a useful purpose in that it gives the ACCC and all interested parties the opportunity to meet face-to-face to discuss the operation and effect of the notified conduct and the ACCC's draft notice proposing to revoke the notification. The notifying party and/or interested persons have the opportunity to persuade the ACCC to accept their view. The ACCC benefits from direct contact with the parties, and its perceptions of public benefits and detriments are tested in a forum of interested parties where points are often quickly and forcefully made.

1. Preliminary procedures

(a) When you arrive at the conference you should identify yourself to ACCC staff before the conference begins. Further, please complete the attendance book when arriving at the conference. This assists ACCC staff to identify attendees for the purpose of recording the discussion.

(b) The Chair (a Commissioner) will open the conference by welcoming those present & outlining the requirements of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and the manner in which the conference will be conducted.

2. General procedures

(a) The conference has been convened to discuss the draft notice, to canvass points of view and to assist the ACCC's weighing of issues and its interpretation of the information given to it.

(b) The procedure is discretionary. The Chair controls the order of discussion, and may take particular topics separately, so that all the discussion, on any given topic may be heard at the one time.

(c) The conference is not a court, and there is no right of cross-examination. You may request the Chair to ask questions of other parties present, but the Chair retains the discretion as to whether your questions will be put. The Chair, of course, may also directly question the parties at the conference, and they have discretion whether or not to answer.

(d) A record of the discussion will be made. The conference record is placed on the puulic register, and all who attend the conference will receive a copy.

(e) When the Chair believes that all present have been given a reasonable opportunity to express their views, he/she may terminate the conference.

(f) The Chair (and any other Commissioner at the conference) cannot give a final decision at the close of the conference. Each Commissioner is only a representative of the ACCC and is required to report back to the ACCC, which will make the final decision.

3. Other matters

(a) Following the conference, the ACCC will review the draft notice in the light of discussion and further submissions made at the conference (or within a set period of time after the conference), and will make its final decision as soon as possible thereafter.

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