Swemmer & Levin

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The purpose of the Competition Act 89 of 1998(“the Act”) is to promote the efficiency, adaptability, and development of the economy, and to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have equitable opportunities. Certain practices, including restrictive horizontal practices, restrictive vertical practices, and abuse of dominance, are prohibited in terms of the Competition Act. 

The Competition Act 89 of 1998 (“the Act”) was enacted to promote and maintain competition in South Africa, to ensure that small and medium-sized enterprises have an equitable opportunity to participate in the economy and to promote a greater spread of ownership, particularly amongst historically disadvantaged persons. This article will outline some of the prohibited practices/agreements in terms of the Act. 

Restrictive Horizontal Practices  

Section 4(1) (b) of the Act prohibits any agreement, concerted practice, or decision that involves restrictive horizontal practices. These are agreements that would have the effect of substantially preventing or lessening competition in the market, by:  

  • Directly or indirectly fixing a purchase or selling price (or any other trading condition);  
  • Dividing the markets by allocating customers, suppliers, territories or specific types of goods and services, or  
  • By collusive tenders.  

The Act provides that parties who conclude such an agreement must prove that there is a technological efficiency or any other gain that favours competition that results from the agreement. 

Restrictive Vertical Practices  

Section 5 of the Act prohibits any other agreement if it is between parties in a vertical relationship (between a firm and its suppliers and/or customers), which has the effect of substantially preventing or lessening competition in a market. These agreements are prohibited unless a party to the agreement can prove that the technological efficiency or other pro-competitive gains resulting from it outweighs the negative impact on competition. An example of a vertically restrictive act would be the exclusive supply agreement between a supplier of key inputs and selected customers, as well as the practice of suppliers or producers prescribing minimum resale prices to its customers. 

Abuse of Dominance 

The Act further prohibits abuse of dominance, which refers to anti-competitive practices perpetrated by dominant firms and may include the following:  

  • Excessive pricing of goods or services to the detriment of customers;  
  • Denying competitors access to an essential facility;  
  • Price discrimination (such as unjustifiably charging customers different prices for the same goods or services; and  
  • Exclusionary acts (such as refusing to supply scarce goods to a competitor, inducing suppliers not to deal with a competitor and buying up a scarce input required by competitors). 

Exemptions 

The prohibition of restrictive practices and the abuse of dominant positions may affect the manner in which business is conducted, negatively affecting economic development. The Act gives the Competition Commission the power to grant exemption from such prohibition on the application of an interested party. An exemption may be granted only if the agreement or practice is required to attain a certain objective, including any of the following: 

  • Maintenance of promotion of exports; 
  • Assistance of small firms controlled by historically disadvantaged persons to become competitive; 
  • The change in productive capacity to stop a decline in an industry or promote economic stability of a designated industry; and 
  • Exercise of intellectual property rights. 

This Act makes it an offence for any person who is a director of a firm or has management authority to cause a firm to enter into agreements or practices that are competitively restrictive or perpetrate abuse of dominance. Parties found to have contravened provisions of this Act are subject to an administrative penalty. 

Reference List: 

  • VISSER, An Overview of the Competition Act (Part 2) volume 2.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.

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Jan Fourie

Director |  Attorney, Notary & Conveyancer | BA. LLB

Jan graduated in 1974 with a five-year BA LLB degree from the University of Stellenbosch, whereafter he was admitted as an advocate and prosecuted as such in the Cape Town and Wynberg Courts. In 1974, he joined Swemmer & Levin as the Candidate Attorney of Mr Levin (founding member) and was admitted as an attorney on 7 April 1976, as a conveyancer on 11 January 1978, and as a Notary on 19 December 1984. Since 1974, he has served in various committees, including the West Coast Chamber of Commerce, the Vredenburg School Committee, and the Malgas Lions Club. 

Furthermore, Jan was the author of the first bilingual law book, The New Debt Collecting Procedures (Die Nuwe Skuldinvorderingsprosedures), which was used by all the Magistrate Courts throughout South Africa. With the founding of the Small Claims Court in Vredenburg, Jan served as one of the first Commissioners. He is currently based at Swemmer & Levin’s Vredenburg office and has been with our firm for more than 47 years.

Pieter Smit

Director | Attorney & Conveyancer | BA. LLB

Pieter obtained his BA Law degree from Stellenbosch University in 1995 and his LLB degree from the North-West University in Potchefstroom in 1998. He served his articles at Marais Muller Attorneys from 1998 to 1999 and was admitted as an attorney in 2000 and as a conveyancer in 2002. Pieter is the founder of PP Smit Attorneys, which opened its doors in 2004. He also became a director of Swemmer & Levin in 2006. Pieter loves the outdoors and participating in all forms of sport, including tennis, golf, fishing, spearfishing, scuba diving, and hiking. 

Johann Maree

Director | Attorney | BA. LLB

Johann matriculated at Oudtshoorn High School and attended Stellenbosch University, where he obtained his BA Law and LLB degrees. Following his studies, he worked for three years as State Prosecutor at the Magistrate’s Court in Cape Town. Johann completed his legal training with the State Attorney in Pretoria and then moved to his hometown, Oudtshoorn, where he worked as a lawyer for a year. In 1983, he finally moved to Vredenburg and joined Swemmer & Levin, where he is still practising as a director. When he is not in the office, Johann enjoys cycling and in his earlier days, he used to be a long-distance junkie.

Richard Phillips

Director | Attorney | Bcom & BProc

After matriculating at Paarl Boys’ High School, Richard completed his BCom and BProc degrees at the University of Port Elizabeth. He served his articles with Van Wyk Fouchee in Paarl and quickly developed an affinity for litigation. Richard has always had a deep love for the ocean and when he was presented with an opportunity to join Swemmer & Levin on the West Coast, he agreed without hesitation and has been with our firm since 1997. Richard specialises in general litigation and divorces. When he is not in the office or with his family, he tries to spend as much time as possible in or on the water.

Jandré Smith

Director | Attorney | LLB

Jandré grew up and matriculated in the small Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. He furthered his studies at the North-West University in Potchefstroom, obtaining his LLB degree during 2015. He completed his articles at Swemmer & Levin in 2017 and was subsequently appointed as a professional assistant. In 2020, Jandré was promoted to the position of director at the firm, where he practises in the Litigation department at our Langebaan office. When not practising law, Jandré is an avid sports fan. He has a passion for nature and enjoys camping, trail running, and mountain biking with his family.

Andre van der Walt

Director | Attorney | LLB

Andre graduated in 2015 with an LLB degree from the University of Pretoria. He later went on to obtain his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates from the University of South Africa, which allowed him to further his career in deceased estates and the drafting of wills and trusts. Andre served his articles at Barnard & Patel Attorneys under the supervision of Mr YAS Patel. After being admitted as an attorney in 2016, he continued working at Barnard & Patel Attorneys as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department.

Andre joined Van Rensburg Attorneys in 2019 and was head of the deceased estates department until 2021. He then received the opportunity to move to the West Coast, where he joined Swemmer & Levin Attorneys. Andre loves travelling and enjoys the beauty that our country has to offer with his friends, family, and loved ones.

Harmann Potgieter

Attorney | LLB

Harmann graduated in 2018 with an LLB degree from the North-West University’s Potchefstroom Campus. He went on to study and grow in various fields, including doing a course on the Consumer Protection Act and a course at the University of South Africa where he obtained his NQF 7 Certificate in the Administration of Deceased Estates.

Harmann completed his articles of clerkship at Swemmer & Levin under the supervision of Mr Richard Phillips. After being admitted as an attorney in 2020, Harmann continued with Swemmer & Levin as a professional assistant in the deceased estates department as well as the litigation department. He loves to study, possesses a deep curiosity about the world, and is dedicated to giving back to the community.

Carla Cloete

Attorney, Conveyancer & Notary | LLB

Carla obtained her LLB at the North West University, Potchefstroom Campus in 2015. She completed her articles in 2017 with Brits Dreyer Inc in Bellville. She is an admitted Attorney, Notary and Conveyancer. After her articles she relocated to Kimberley where she worked as a professional assistant in the Conveyancing department of Van de Wall Inc. Coming back to her Western Cape roots, she now joins the Swemmer & Levin team as a professional assistant.