The committee are planning to lodge the proposals for States debate before the end of this year.
irms that engage in anti-competitive practices could face financial penalties of up to ten per cent of their turnover, over a maximum of three years, if the States approve the law.
ommittee president Deputy Gerald Voisin, guest speaker at the Institute of Directors lunch on Tuesday, said the Island’s competition regulator, the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority, would have wide-ranging investigatory powers to require information and enter premises.
Powers of entry may seem extreme, but they are necessary if the law is to be effective,’ he said.
‘But it is hoped that this will be the exception and that the authority and businesses will work together in a spirit of co-operation.
However, sometimes action will be necessary.
Only last week it was reported that the UK competition commission raided the offices of cross channel ferry operators to search for evidence of price-fixing.
The proposals do not prohibit monopolies unless they are found to hinder competition or abuse their dominant position.
However, Deputy Voisin said that mergers and acquisitions would be scrutinised ‘to ensure that diversity is preserved in the Island’s economy and in a manner that considers the interests of the consumer.
Deputy Voisin stressed, however, that the competition law contained nothing new and that the USA, UK and European countries already had well-established competition legislation in place.
e said the main potential benefits to business – which would apply equally to the public as well as the private sector – included the motivation to innovate and develop new products, to gain a competitive advantage.
‘The new law should be seen as a liberalising measure, particularly as regards enterprises owned, run or regulated by the States of Jersey.
Businesses were also consumers and would themselves benefit from lower prices and greater choice.
‘I would urge individuals, businesses and trade associations to take any concerns they may have about harmful anti-competitive practices to the JCRA,’ said Deputy Voisin.
From the point of view of the Island business community, the law also represents an opportunity to shake off the rumours and innuendo of price fixing, profiteering and ripping off Islanders.
The only real threat from the proposed law is to those who may be inflating prices by operating cartels, sharing markets or engaging in other activity that is to the detriment of the consumer and to the Island as a whole, and surely it is right that these should no longer be tolerated in our society.
He urged firms belonging to trade associations and groups to check to make sure that they were not involved in setting standard charge-out rates or prices, as this could fall foul of the new law.