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.