Commerce Commission investigations are often assisted by the input of individuals and businesses. It considers that such cooperation should be encouraged. The possibility the Commission will agree to a lower level of enforcement action might make some participants more willing to cooperate with the Commission in its investigations. The Commission's Cooperation Policy provides a guide to the cooperation conditions.
The Effect of Cooperation
The effect of the Commission's agreement to proceed under this Cooperation Policy is that the Commission will exercise its discretion to take a lower level of enforcement action, or no action at all, against an individual or business in exchange for information and full continuing and complete cooperation.
A lower level of enforcement action may include a settlement, or a submission made by the Commission to the court for a reduction in penalty on behalf of an individual or business.
An agreement by the Commission to proceed under this Cooperation Policy does not prevent third party action.
The Scope of Cooperation
The Commission's Cooperation Policy operates in relation to the Commerce Act (excluding cartels), Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003, Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001, Electricity Industry Reform Act 1998 and Fair Trading Act 1986. Cartels are excluded from this Policy because, since 1 March 2010, the Commission's policy on co-operation in cartel cases is included in the Cartel Leniency Policy.
Cooperation Policy Conditions
If an individual or business has been involved in behaviour that may contravene any of the relevant Acts and comes forward to the Commission, the Commission may, after consideration of relevant circumstances, agree to a lower level of enforcement action. The Commission's policy provides:
- The decision to proceed with a lower level of enforcement is at the Commission's sole discretion.
- The Commission is more likely to consider requests for a lower level of enforcement action where individuals or businesses:
- fully inform the Commission about the behaviour that may have contravened any of the relevant Acts;
- fully co-operates with the Commission during any subsequent investigation (or investigations) and this includes the full, frank and truthful disclosure of their own behaviour and provision of all relevant information to the Commission including written documents and in some circumstances, this may include giving evidence in court;
- are prepared to pay compensation to injured parties where the Commission considers that this is appropriate;
- upon discovering that their behaviour may be a breach of any of the above Acts stop that behaviour immediately; and
- are willing to put in place an effective compliance programme.
- The Commission is unlikely to agree to a lower level of enforcement action where an individual or business forced or encouraged others to take part in an activity which contravened any of the relevant Acts.
- Where possible the Commission will keep the identity of the individual or business confidential.