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Competition and consumer law

AGS works with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER). Our regulatory team has considerable expertise in these sectors, as well as in administrative law applications. It has acted successfully for the AER in challenges to its decisions. Our relationship with the ACCC (and its predecessors) has spanned more than 40 years. AGS acts for the ACCC in regulatory proceedings under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

Our competition practice comprises a core group of practitioners nationally who are dedicated to undertaking work for the ACCC and other regulators with civil penalty regimes.

In recent times we have advised the AER on its responsibilities.

We also assist other agencies to identify and manage potential consumer and competition issues, including for business activities conducted by Commonwealth agencies and dealings with third parties such as contractors.

Early and efficient resolution of matters is key to the ACCC's enforcement strategy. AGS has worked closely with the ACCC in using the Federal Court's Fast Track list to expedite the hearing and resolution of disputes on relatively confined matters. Our practitioners' familiarity with the Fast Track process has helped the ACCC obtain faster results, including negotiated resolutions.

Examples of our work for the ACCC include:

  • Coles, Boral, Baxter, Visy, Flyash, Cabcharge, and the various Air Cargo matters. These are some of the largest and most complex commercial litigations conducted in the Federal Court and have involved AGS drafting pleadings, reviewing evidence, preparing affidavits, briefing economists, and litigating to trial several proceedings concurrently
  • merger investigation and litigation. We have assisted in the preparation of staff papers making recommendations to the ACCC relating to decisions to be made by Commissioners concerning proposed acquisitions. AGS has advised on a large number of mergers, including Metcash, the NAB/AXA acquisition, Woolworths’ acquisition of Danks, and Angus and Robertson's acquisition of Borders
  • international cartel investigations and proceedings. These have involved challenges to service overseas, liaison with overseas regulators and witnesses, and dealing with issues raised by immunity parties (and their personnel who may not have immunity in all jurisdictions), as well as preparing evidence and conducting contested hearings, working with the ACCC and the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) in the energy, telecommunications and water sectors. Our regulatory team has considerable expertise in these sectors, having acted successfully for the AER in challenges to its decisions, including challenges by ActewAGL and Telstra.