The Competition Tribunal is an independent adjudicative body established in terms of section 26 of the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998 (Act). It has jurisdiction throughout the Republic of South Africa. It exercises its functions in accordance with the Act, the Constitution and without fear, favour or prejudice.

The Competition Tribunal is one of three independent authorities established in terms of the Act. These are:
  • the Competition Commission, which is the investigative and enforcement authority
  • the Competition Tribunal, which adjudicates on matters referred to it by the Competition Commission, and
  • the Competition Appeal Court, which considers appeals or reviews against Tribunal decisions.

Prior to the establishment of the Act, competition matters in the economy were regulated by the old Competition Board. This board was not independent of the Minister of Trade and Industry, and only had advisory powers on competition matters.

After 1994 there was a need to redress past inequality and access to the national economy by small businesses and those owned by previously disadvantaged persons. Historically, some firms in dominant positions had abused economic power, there was evidence of collusive practices by some enterprises, and economic wealth was held in the hands of a select few. The new democratic post-1994 government noted its intention to review the South African competition law regime in the White Paper on Reconstruction and Development (Notice 1954 Gazette 16085 of 23 November 1994).

A new framework of competition regulation was established in 1998. It is known as the Competition Act, No. 89 of 1998 (Act). The Act replaced the Competition Board with three independent regulatory authorities – the Competition Commission, the Competition Tribunal and the Competition Appeal Court. It also made it compulsory for firms to notify the Competition Commission and/or the Competition Tribunal about mergers and acquisitions above a certain monetary threshold.

The Competition Act regulates two broad areas of competition:
1) mergers and acquisitions, and
2) prohibited practices (anti-competitive conduct).

In all matters, the Competition Tribunal will hold hearings which 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.

The Competition Tribunal is required to:
  • grant exemptions, authorise or prohibit large mergers (with or without conditions) or prohibit a merger
  • adjudicate in relation to any conduct prohibited in terms of chapter 2 or 3 of the Act, and
  • grant an order for costs in terms of section 57 of the Act on matters presented to it by the Competition Commission.

Once the Competition Tribunal arrives at a decision, it is required to publish its reasons on the site.