17th March 2016

A Win for Private Dental Practices and their Patients 

The Australian Government has announced that it intends to reform the Competition Law. In particular, it will strengthen the misuse of market power provision, section 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, to better protect small business from larger competitors misusing their market power.

This is a big win for the ADA and its members. The ADA has played a significant role in advocating for changing section 46 of the CCA to include an “effects test”, which will make it easier for small businesses to mount misuse of market power proceedings against their larger competitors. (See the ADA’s submission of 16 January 2016 at ada.org.au).

Currently section 46 requires proof of “purpose” i.e. that the entity that has market power is engaging in conduct that has the purpose of substantially lessening competition; however, proving this has been difficult to achieve to date.

Under the Australian Government’s changes, the new section 46 will allow the courts to assess whether the conduct of the larger entity has had the effect or likely effect of substantially lessening competition. This change means, for instance, that large corporations such as private health insurers will be constrained from undertaking possible competition-lessening activities.

The ADA will continue to make sure our voice is heard so that these fundamental changes to Competition Law are passed through Parliament.