Competition Law

Directors of Nortons Inc have consistently been voted as leading practitioners in the field of competition law in South Africa. The firm has represented numerous South African blue chip companies as well as major international corporates before the South African competition authorities in the majority of South Africa’s leading competition law cases.

Nortons Inc provides advice across the entire range of competition law matters including merger control, joint venture advice, cartel investigations, prohibited practice investigations, advice in relation to horizontal and vertical practices, abuse of a dominant position and general competition litigation before the South African courts and competition authorities.

Prohibited Practices

Nortons Inc. continues to represent clients in relation to local and regional investigations into allegations of anti-competitive conduct including restrictive horizontal practices (price-fixing, market division and collusive tendering) and in relation to restrictive vertical practices (exclusive agreements and allegations of minimum resell price maintenance).

Representing an entity in the Competition Commission’s investigation into the bread sector

Nortons Inc. successfully represented the leniency applicant in what as been the most extensive and significant cartel investigation carried out by the Competition Authorities to date. The matter, which was heard by the Competition Tribunal in June 2009, was the first occasion that the Competition Tribunal has considered an actual cartel. The matter has set legal precedent in relation to the manner in which the Tribunal will impose administrative sanctions for the cartel activities.

Abuse of Dominance

Nortons Inc. continues to represent clients against various allegations of an abuse of dominance both locally and in the Southern African region. The firm has represented clients against allegations which have included excessive pricing, price discrimination, refusals to deal and predatory pricing.

Nortons Inc. is representing Sasol Chemical Industries Limited (“SCI”) in a matter which is expected to become the leading case on excessive pricing in South Africa.

Nortons Inc. is representing SCI in a matter that is expected to become the leading South African competition law case on excessive pricing. In 2010, the Competition Commission referred a case of excessive pricing against SCI to the Tribunal for determination. In terms of the two complaints contained in the referral, the Competition Commission has alleged that SCI’s polymers division has charged excessive prices for propylene in the upstream sector and for polypropylene in the downstream sector. Given that the Mittal Steel case was ultimately settled out of court, it is anticipated that this case will set new precedent on excessive pricing in South African competition law. The case is also likely to have implications for international jurisprudence on the topic of excessive pricing.

In addition, Nortons Inc. is currently involved in a number of abuse of dominance investigation, on behalf of undisclosed clients, in the following industries:

  • telecommunications
  • internet services applications
  • alcoholic beverages
  • carbonated soft drinks
  • petroleum jelly

Mergers & Acquisitions

The firm has been actively involved in representing clients in relation to all forms of merger control before the South African authorities and increasingly before regional competition authorities. The firm has represented clients in all major sectors of the local economy including property, retail, information technology, publishing, manufacturing, agriculture, food and agro processing, construction and infrastructure, intermediate industrial products, banking and financial services and renewable energy.

Nortons Inc. have been involved in a number of matters including:

  • Anglo American / De Beers
  • Kansai / Freeworld
  • Tsogo / Gold Reef City
  • Unilever / Alberto Culver
  • Aspen Pharmacare / Fine Chemicals
  • Imperial / Midas
  • Merck & Co. Inc. / Schering-Plough Corporation
  • Aspen Pharmacare / GlaxoSmithKline
  • Tsogo Sun Holdings (Pty) Limited / Gold Reef Resorts Limited