Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Dáil Éireann Debate
104. Mr. Hogan asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment if he will make a statement on the operation of the Competition Act, 1991, and the present backlog of cases that have to be dealt with by the Competition Authority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
In regard to the backlog, the Authority has, at my request, drawn up a work programme designed to make significant inroads into the number of cases on hand by the end of this year, with a progressive reduction in the backlog in coming years. Progress in this regard is being monitored closely.
Under the recently published Competition (Amendment) Bill, 1994, which I introduced in this House yesterday, it is proposed to provide for public independent enforcement of competition rules. The existing system of whereby the principal means of enforcement was through private actions in the civil courts has proved, in the period of operation, to be less than fully effective. To strengthen the application of the law I am proposing to appoint a member of the Competition Authority with specific responsibility for enforcement matters, the new member to be the Director of Competition Enforcement.
The second major change to the law proposes to remove all mergers from the scope of section 4 of the Competition Act. Section 4 of the 1991 Act created a dual jeopardy difficulty with mergers  being subject to two sets of regulatory instruments.
The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 1994, is largely confined to making these two major changes. I will look at the overall position of the law in a couple of years time when we will have the benefit of seeing how the latest arrangements have worked in practice.
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