On the 26th of March, a Bill was published to amend inter alia the Competition Act and the Consumer Affairs Act. Essential features consist of implementing the principles of Articles 101 & 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which are concerned with the implementation of EU competition rules and principles. Other regulations being implemented include the Competition Law Infringements Regulations and the Anti-Trust Regulations.
This Bill seeks to amend the following:
The Bill begins by amending the Consumer Affairs Act, which involve provisions relating to the addition of powers of the Director General, including powers to investigate upon receiving an allegation in writing and powers against traders suspected of infringing competition regulations by refraining him from such conduct. Other powers provided to the Director General include issuing written pleadings, request the Civil Court for the application of an interim measure, request the issuing of a compliance order, amongs other additional roles. The Bill also added more powers to the regulatory authority, the Council and also to the Civil Court.
The third part of the Bill lists the amendments to the Competition Act. Once again, one can see the added responsibility given to the Director General who is in charge of overseeing competition between companies in Malta. Such rights and responsibilities bestowed upon the Director General include the right to request documents of the parties to an investigation, even in the event that the parties agree to a settlement procedure. The role of the Court has also seen a significant growth in terms of the Competition Act, such as the power to declare certain commitments of an undertaking to stop if it is suspected that the infringement will be put to an end once these commitments cease, as well as its power to issue a cease and desist order or a compliance order.
The Bill then goes on to propose the amendments which need to be done to the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority Act, which involved the addition of a few transitory provisions to the Act itself. The Bill then provides a list of consequential amendments which mostly have to do with the Civil Court (Commercial Section) procedures, including penalties, prescription periods, right of appeals, investigation procedures, etc.
Other areas which the Bill covers include the following: