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CCS Revises Guidelines to Foster a Level Playing Field for Businesses

2016, Legislation Singapore

The Competition Commission of Singapore (“CCS”) issued its first set of Guidelines in 2007. The Guidelines outline how CCS will administer and enforce the provisions under the Competition Act.

CCS has completed the review of its Guidelines and the public consultation on the proposed changes to the Guidelines. The revised Guidelines reflects the first comprehensive revision to the Guidelines, taking into account 10 years of experience and enforcement by CCS. The revised Guidelines, which take into account international best practices, will make it easier for businesses, consumers and other stakeholders to understand how CCS will administer and enforce the Competition Act.

The key benefits for businesses brought about by the revision are:

  1. New Fast Track Procedure for shorter and faster investigation process: The new Fast Track Procedure allows businesses under investigation to enter into an agreement with CCS where they will admit their liability early by acknowledging their participation in an anti-competitive activity. In return, they will receive a reduction on the financial penalty to be imposed. The purpose of introducing this Fast Track Procedure is to allow, in appropriate cases, for CCS to increase the efficiency of its investigation and enforcement process, thereby shortening the time taken to issue a decision.
  2. More clarity and guidance on how CCS will calculate financial penalties: One of the key amendments is to calculate the financial penalty based on the financial year preceding the date when the undertaking’s participation in the infringement ended, rather than basing it on the financial year preceding the issuance of CCS’s decision. This provides greater certainty to businesses under investigation as the relevant financial year will no longer depend on when CCS issues its decision. The quantum of the financial penalty would therefore be more proportionate to the turnover earned by parties when they had engaged in the infringing conduct.
  3. Processes simplified to save businesses time: Changes have been made to the Guidelines to simplify processes and clarify CCS’s approach in assessing various conduct. This includes the simplification of various notification forms and procedures. Businesses will also know upfront what to expect and what will be required by CCS during the investigation process.

More information on the revised guidelines can be found here.