The Competition Tribunal was established in 1998 by the Competition Act. Prior to the promulgation of the Competition Act of 1998, competition matters in the economy were regulated by the old Competition Board. The Competition Board was not independent of the Minister of Trade and Industry and only had advisory powers.
In 1998, the democratic government of South Africa established a new framework of Competition Regulation. Three independent bodies, which replaced the Competition Board, were created by the Act. These are the Competition Commission, the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Court. This Act also made it compulsory for firms to notify the Commission and/or the Tribunal about mergers and acquisitions above a certain monetary threshold.
The Commission is the investigation and enforcement agency. The Tribunal is the adjudicative body, very much like a court. The Appeal Court considers appeals against decisions of the Tribunal.
In practice, the Competition Act regulates two broad areas of competition, mergers and acquisitions on the one hand and prohibited practices (anti-competitive conduct) on the other hand.
In relation to mergers, the Commission investigates and makes a decision about intermediate mergers. With large mergers however the Commission conducts an investigation and makes a recommendation to the Tribunal for decision.
In respect of prohibited practices, the Commission investigates and may when it so determines, refer such matters to the Tribunal for prosecution.
Sometimes the Commission and the party will agree the terms of a settlement in which case the Tribunal must decide whether to confirm the agreement in order to give it the force of law.
Private parties may also approach the Tribunal for interim relief in prohibited practice cases.
If the Commission does not refer a matter which a member of the public brought to it, the member of the public can bring the case directly to the Tribunal if the Commission has issued it with a certificate of non-referral.
The Tribunal is required to hold hearings in each matter. Its proceedings are open to the public. In almost all cases, apart from a few procedural type cases, three Tribunal members must hear a case and make a decision.
Once the Tribunal has arrived at a decision, it publishes its reasons on this website.
Tribunal members are appointed to serve a five year term of office by the President. Terms of office can be renewed. Tribunal members typically have experience in law or economics.
The Tribunal is also served by a full time staff, presently 14 people, who operate through three divisions, registry, corporate services and research
For more information contact the Registrar of the Tribunal, Mrs. Lerato Motaung.