Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Niall Collins has said that legislation introduced by him today will ensure that breaches of competition law are dealt with vigorously and that Irish consumers are fully protected.

Deputy Collins was commenting after introducing, at first stage, his Competition and Consumer Protection Commission Amendment Bill 2018 in the Dáil.

“My bill is fundamentally a pro-consumer piece of legislation that will empower the CCPC with new powers to enforce breaches of competition law and deter anti-competitive practices.

“Unfortunately, there are some businesses engaging in anti-competitive cartel activity such as bid-rigging and a practice known as cover pricing. Ultimately these practices are anti-consumer and lead to price increases for ordinary people.

“At present, the CCPC cannot issue administrative sanctions on companies or issue penalty fines for breach of Irish and EU competition law.  The only way for a company to be penalised is as a result of a criminal conviction. However, just one fine of €17,500 has been imposed since 2014.

“This bill is in response to requests from the CCPC for an increase in their powers to deal with rogue companies that are engaging in clear and malicious anti-competitive practices.

“The main changes from my bill include:

·         Providing an appeals mechanism to the Court of Appeal

·         Allowing for fines of up to €100 million or 10% of turnover in extreme cases

“The oft repeated lined from the Government that it would be unconstitutional to allow an authority such as the CCPC to issue fines for prohibited anti-competitive practices is lazy and anti-consumer.

“This is a practical piece of legislation designed to protect consumers. I expect other parties will back its passage through the Oireachtas, and I would ask Minister Humphreys to not put barriers in front of it to ensure it can be enacted as quickly as possible,” concluded Collins.