Competition law enforcement, cartels and dawn raids

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is bringing more aggressive enforcement cases, seeking (and getting) more severe penalties, and working with overseas regulators on global cases, including criminal prosecution for cartels.


As the go-to legal advisers for managing high-profile international and Australian cartel investigations and associated litigation, we have acted on search warrants for suspected cartel conduct, many of the major leniency applications with the ACCC (including the Australian aspects of international cartels) and statutory notices investigating suspected breaches of the competition and consumer laws.

We also act for companies in defence of contested proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia brought by the ACCC seeking civil penalties for cartel conduct. We have significant experience with navigating the complexities of the immunity policies offered by the ACCC and the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.

We have advising both international and Australian businesses and executives in relation to cartel investigations and prosecutions instigated by regulators, including the ACCC, US Department of Justice and the European Commission.

We draw on our insights and industry knowledge to formulate remedial steps and strategies for engagement with regulators to achieve the optimal outcome.

Relationships that matter

The team's experience spans a range of industries including pharmaceuticals and healthcare, patent settlements, automotive components, marine hose, financial services, shipping, copy paper, power cables, LPG gas, manufacturing, and airfreight.

We are also at the forefront of developments in cartel-related legislation, and are active members of Australian and international bodies such as the International Cartel Task Force Committee.

Clients use Clayton Utz to "guide them in the choices they are required to make, in particular in responding to action by external regulators."

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FX markets: We are advising in a £1 billion+ class action in the Federal Court including allegations that defendants rigged the global foreign exchange market.

FX – Singapore derivatives: We acted for a major Australian bank in respect of ACCC enforcement action through the Federal Court in respect of alleged cartel conduct involving FX derivatives.

App Store: We are acting in defence of a private misuse of market power and unconscionability claim in relation to terms of use of a leading app store.

LPG Gas: We acted in enforcement proceedings brought for cartel conduct in the sale of LPG forklift gas in the period 2006-11.

Laundry detergent: We acted for Woolworths in proceedings brought by the ACCC in the Federal Court of Australia against Colgate-Palmolive Pty Ltd, PZ Cussons Australia Pty Ltd and Woolworths, alleging cartel conduct in the laundry category in the period 2008-09.

Automotive components: We acted for the immunity applicant in the Yazaki case which resulted in the highest civil penalty to date for cartel conduct (A$46 million).

Ro-ro shipping: We acted for a major shipping line in a criminal investigation and proceedings brought by the ACCC in relation to an international cartel involving international shipping companies in relation to the shipping of vehicles to Australia from Asia, Europe and the US on behalf of major car manufacturers. This is only one of a handful of criminal prosecutions to date where criminal charges have been laid under the Competition and Consumer Act.

High voltage cables: We successfully acted for Nexans SA in cartel proceedings brought by the ACCC in the Federal Court of Australia in relation to alleged cartel conduct in the high voltage underground cable sector in Australia.

Air cargo: We advised two separate international airlines in relation to what is reported to be the world's largest cartel investigation, involving co-ordinated investigations by anti-trust agencies in several major jurisdictions in relation to air freight services.

Woolworths: We acted for Woolworths in proceedings brought by the ACCC in the Federal Court of Australia against Informed Sources and major petrol retailers (BP, Caltex, Woolworths, Coles Express and 7-Eleven) alleging cartel conduct in relation to a petrol price information exchange. At the time the proceedings were described as "landmark legal action against most of the nation’s petrol retailers".

Pharmaceuticals: We are advising the client in a competition claim concerning alleged misuse of market power in relation to melanoma treatments and eligibility conditions for patient access programs.

Patent settlements: We have acted for a number of pharmaceutical companies in respect of competition investigations of patent settlements on "pay for delay" grounds, including attending execution of a criminal search warrant and an immunity application.

Our team to support you