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Competition Law concerns the preservation and promotion of competition in Australia. As a critical component of micro-economic policy, this field of law is underpinned by economic theory and is primarily (though not exclusively) driven by economic goals. The subject covers the way in which anti-competitive practices are regulated at common law before focusing on Part IV of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth). In particular, the regulation of:
- Mergers and acquisitions;
- Misuse of market power;
- Horizontal restraints such as cartels, anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices; and
- Vertical restraints such as exclusive dealing and resale price maintenance.
It also addresses the policies and practices involved in enforcing competition law. Reform of competition law and policy will also be discussed.
The subject not only ensures that students have an advanced understanding of the technical aspects of this legal specialty, but also that they are able to critically analyse the law from both policy and practical perspectives.
The subject also introduces students to an interdisciplinary approach in the study of law, through the introduction and application of economic concepts and theories in a legal context.
While it canvasses the policy objectives and challenges of competition regulation, the subject is also applied in its orientation in that it encourages students to explore the practical applications of the law in the context of real-life trade and commerce.
The subject also integrates comparative experience and insights from major overseas jurisdictions such as the United States and European Community, as well as from the developing field of international competition law.
Students are also given insights into the practical experiences and perspectives of those who work in competition law.
Intended learning outcomes
On successful completion of this subject, students will have:
An integrated understanding of the following specialised topics:
- the differences between common law and statutory regulation of anti-competitive practices.
- the policy objectives in legislating to control anti-competitive practices.
- the relevance of economic concepts and theories in regulating competition in the market-place and the role of economic evidence in litigating and adjudicating matters under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
- the issues that arise in defining the conduct that should be subject to legal regulation for competition purposes and in applying the law in specific situations.
- the roles played by regulatory authorities and the courts in enforcing the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the controversies that arise in connection with enforcement practices and outcomes.
Additionally, students will have:
- the ability to critically assess the practical advantages and disadvantages of legal regulation of business practices and the impact on business of enforcement policies and practices.
- a sophisticated insight into the political dimensions of competition regulation and their consequences for the content and enforcement of the law.
- an advanced ability to undertake statutory interpretation and case analysis through the experience of construing the complex provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and reviewing the cases in which those provisions have been applied.
- developed specialised skills in oral communication and in particular, in the articulation at a sophisticated level of arguments and views concerning the subject material.
- through the assessment by examination, demonstrated a clear ability to construct and communicate in writing a sophisticated argument based on understanding the facts, identifying the issues, analysing the applicable law and applying the law to the facts in a way akin to the process undertaken by competition lawyers in practice.
On completion of the subject, students should have developed their skills in the following ways:
- Specialist understanding, interpretation, critical reflection, synthesis and comparison of the statutory text governing competition law in Australia;
- Specialist understanding, interpretation, critical reflection, synthesis and comparison of cases relating to competition law and enforcement in Australia;
- Analysing, comparing and reflecting critically on policy documents relating to competition law and enforcement in Australia;
- Critically evaluating proposals for reform of Australian competition law and enforcement having regard, amongst other things, to international comparisons;
- Formulating and articulating views on difficult technical issues relating to competition law and enforcement in oral discussion in class, in a manner displaying the development of professional judgment; and
- The capacity to grasp a new set of facts, identify the legal/economic problem that arises on the facts, and identify and apply the relevant law in response to the problem, showing the kind of professional expertise and judgment of the kind that would be required in practice as a competition lawyer.
Last updated: 11 September 2020