Original Research

Has the conduct-based approach to competition law in South Africa led to consistent interpretations of harm to competition?

Ryan Hawthorne
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 11, No 3 | a461 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v11i3.461 | © 2012 Ryan Hawthorne | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 October 2012 | Published: 19 October 2012

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The Competition Act and certain recent decisions by the competition authorities are examined here to assess the extent to which South Africa’s conduct-based approach to competition law has led to consistent outcomes in the assessment of effects on competition. This has not been the case in the assessment of anti-competitive effects among customers or resellers when a supplier accused of an anti-competitive action does not compete with its customers. An anti-competitive effect among customers or resellers is treated as anti-competitive when it arises from some form of conduct, such as price discrimination. However, it is not seen as anti-competitive when it arises from a refusal to supply, for example. Possible reasons for South Africa’s conduct-based approach and this inconsistent outcome in the assessment of competition among customers and resellers, including the economic foundations of the relevant approaches and their relationship with competition law in other jurisdictions, are assessed.



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