THE Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has warned of stern action against enterprises engaging in anti-competitive practices.
CCPC Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs, Maureen Mwanza noted that engaging in unfair trade conduct was a criminal offense as the behaviour has a direct negative effect both on the economy and on consumers.
Ms Mwanza said the Commission had legal powers to fine any business entity or individual found abrogating conditions of the merger or undertakings as provided for under section 37 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (the Act).
She said this following the Supreme Court judgement dated 10th March, 2016 that the Act gave CCPC powers to fine any business or individual found guilty of abrogating section 37 of the Act.
This was in a matter where Puma Energy (Z) PLC appealed to the Supreme Court against a High Court ruling that CCPC had powers to fine, contrary to the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal’s ruling that the Commission over-stepped its boundaries when it fined Puma Energy Limited 2% of its annual turnover and Dana Oils Corporations 1% of its annual turnover for abrogating merger conditions in August, 2012.
Ms Mwanza said the Supreme Court judgement confirmed CCPC’s powers to fine and also resolved the outstanding issue that Puma Energy Limited was not authorised to import Castrol products in Zambia in line with 2011 conditions for authorisation. “Therefore, the Commission wishes to direct that Dana Oil Corporation must procure the Castrol products from BP Africa in accordance with the approved 2002 contract between BP Africa and Dana Oil Corporation,” she said.
The ruling stated that the only authorised importer and distributor of Castrol products in Zambia in terms of 2001, 2002 and 2011 authorisation contract is Dana Oil Corporation limited.
The Commission in the 1st February, 2012 letter, directed that Puma Energy Limited and Dana Oil Corporation Limited revert to the authorised conditions of 2001, 2002 and 2011 approvals and that Dana Oil Corporation limited must procure Castrol products from BP Africa in accordance with their contract dated 23rd June, 2002 between BP Africa and Dana Oil Corporation approved by the Commission.
She added that the 2011 conditional approval between BP Africa and Puma Energy Limited excluded Puma Energy in the Castrol business in Zambia and mandated it to uphold the authorised contract between Dana oil Corporation and BP Africa for the supply of lubricants which subsisted prior to the takeover.
Furthermore, the stated position was validated by the High Court ruling between CCPC and Dana Oil Corporation on 30th June, 2015.
The High Court Judgement between Puma Energy and the Commission dated 30th June, 2015 restored and upheld the 1st February, 2012 letter to the parties.