Cartel Law and Collusion

Cartel law in New Zealand

This page has a general summary of the legal rules and restrictions in New Zealand competition law, by which the Commerce Commission (“CC”) investigates and prosecutes cartels – ie. anti-competitive agreements involving:

  • price fixing
  • market allocation
  • output restriction, or
  • bid rigging.

Gary is a leading NZ competition lawyer, having involvement in many of the CC’s major cartel investigations over the past 15+ years. See here for his competition & consumer law experience.

Where do cartels sit in the context of things that the CC regulates?

The CC has a complicated jurisdiction that has grown incrementally over time as the NZ Parliament has handed it more regulatory responsibilities. Boiled down, there are basically 3 key pillars of pure competition law control, in the Commerce Act 1986:

  1. preventing anticompetitive agreements between more than one party (especially cartels between competitors, the subject of this article);
  2. prohibiting a single large firm from abusing its substantial market power (dominance or monopoly concerns); and
  3. preventing anti-competitive mergers or acquisitions (via a merger clearance regime).

Additionally, the NZCC has other important ancillary fields of jurisdiction:

  • consumer law protections against fair trading, unfair contract terms and (soon) unconscionable conduct – laws of general application (as well as specific consumer credit contracts protections);
  • laws of application to specific sectors for price/quality control regulation, e.g. electricity, gas, telecommunications, airports and milk supply – where the market has natural monopolistic tendency (see #2 above) requiring intervention by direct regulated systems.
What are cartels (see #1 above) or other closely related anti-competitive arrangements between rivals?



cartel law change - now criminal in NZ