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Harikumar Pillay

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Hari is a principal in the Competition & Antitrust Practice Group at Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow. His practice covers competition law and regulation-related advisory work in Singapore and the Southeast Asia region. Hari was the Director of the Enforcement Division at the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore ("CCCS"), where he supervised the CCCS’s Intelligence Unit and IT Forensics Taskforce, in addition to the supervision of case teams on various investigations, mergers and notifications. He was also responsible for managing leniency applications made to the CCCS, overseeing the secret complainant and reward schemes, planning and executing dawn raids, and recording investigative statements of persons under investigations. Hari led teams involved in defending appeals brought against the CCCS’s decisions before the Competition Appeals Board. Prior to joining the Baker McKenzie Wong & Leow, Hari completed stints in private practice and as a Justices' Law Clerk with the Singapore Legal Service.

Over the past year or so, the regulatory regime for merger control in Indonesia has seen significant changes. In October 2019, the Indonesian Business Competition Supervisory Commission (“KPPU”) issued a new rule on assessments of M&A transactions (“2019 Rule”), which was further clarified by the guidelines issued in October 2020 (“2020 Merger Guide”).

We discussed these issues in the webinar on “Navigating Merger Control Rules in Cross-Border M&A Transactions” broadcasted on 17 December 2020.

The Fast Track Procedure (FTP) introduced in December 2016 by the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has been applied for the first time in a bid-rigging decision involving three water features maintenance businesses (CU Water Services, Crystalene Product (S) and Crystal Clear Contractor) (“Infringement Decision”). In exchange for admission of liability and cooperation with the CCCS in respect of their infringement of the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements under section 34 of the Competition Act (Cap. 50B), Crystalene Product (S) and Crystal Clear Contractor benefitted from a 10% reduction on their respective penalties under the FTP. This is in addition to discounts made available to them under the CCCS’s leniency regime by virtue of their leniency applications.  

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) has issued an infringement decision (“Infringement Decision”) against three businesses engaged in the provision of maintenance services for water features. CU Water Services , Crystalene Product (S) and Crystal Clear Contractor (“Parties”) were directed to pay financial penalties totalling approximately S$420,000 for infringing section 34 of the Competition Act (Cap. 50B) and for participating in bid-rigging conduct relating to tenders called for the provision of maintenance services for pools, ponds, etc.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) accepted voluntary undertakings from the owners and operators of the “ABC Bargain Centre,” “Valu$” and “ABC Express” retail outlets (collectively “Parties”), to cease the use of “Closing Down Sale” and “Fire Sale” advertisements from 30 September 2020. The CCCS noted that using such advertisements when firms are neither ceasing operations nor are in financial distress can constitute an unfair practice in breach of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (Cap. 52A) (CPFTA) as they can mislead consumers into believing that there is a price benefit, which would only be available for a limited period.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) is updating six of its competition guidelines, to educate and inform businesses and competition practitioners by refining and clarifying the analytical and procedural frameworks employed by the CCCS in administering and enforcing the Competition Act (Cap. 50B) (the “Act”) in Singapore. The CCCS is conducting a public consultation for feedback on its proposed amendments to the competition guidelines in respect of the treatment of intellectual property rights, market definition, section 47 prohibition (abuse of a dominant position), enforcement, substantive assessment of mergers and merger procedures (“Public Consultation”). The closing date for submissions is 8 October 2020.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (“CCCS”) issued the Guidelines on Price Transparency (“Guidelines”) to explain how it would interpret the Consumer Protection Fair Trading Act (“CPFTA”) in relation to the display/advertisement of prices and pricing practices such as time-limited discounts, free offers and price comparisons. The Guidelines apply to all suppliers, whether operating online or in physical stores, and will come into effect on 1 November 2020.

The CCCS is also reviewing the CPFTA to enhance its enforcement powers.

The Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) is updating its competition guidelines to provide more clarity and guidance to businesses in the digital sector. This follows the commission’s e-commerce platform market study report (the “Study”) released on 10 September 2020. The CCCS’s public consultation exercise on the proposed changes to the guidelines is ongoing until 8 October 2020.

The CCCS also urged e-commerce platform operators to raise sellers’ awareness and understanding of the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) and encouraged sellers to adopt its recommended “good trade practices.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the supply of essential goods and services around the world, including Singapore, and such disruptions have required competitors to temporarily collaborate to sustain or improve the supply of essential goods and services. To provide clarity on whether such collaborations will fall afoul of the Singapore Competition Act (Cap. 50B) (the “Act”), the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (“CCCS”) has issued the “CCCS Guidance Note on Collaborations between Competitors in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” (“Guidance Note”).