Commerce Minister Suggests Litigation To Resolve Business Disputes


Commerce, Science and Technology Minister, Phillip Paulwell, has urged consumers and businesses to utilise the “private right of action” provision under the Fair Competition Act, to resolve disputes arising from the uncompetitive behaviour of firms.
Minister Paulwell said that the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) was increasingly becoming “the institution of first resort in resolving anti-competitive activities.
Citing the increasing number of cases that had come before the Commission, Mr. Paulwell said that litigation would “relieve some of the pressure off the FTC and was an “effective tool to prevent persons from breaching provisions under the Act”.
These breaches, he said, included misleading advertising, bid rigging and collusive tendering. Minister Paulwell pointed out that when the FTC was established, it was created to be “a watchdog [and] an institution of last resort” to deal with these types of breaches.
In delivering the keynote address at a dinner hosted by the FTC at the Terra Nova Hotel on Saturday (Sept.13), the Minister said, “every single citizen or business is able to pursue its own legitimate claims against others who are infringing on their rights under the FCA”.
Noting that he did not wish to see the society becoming as litigious as others, the Minister said that he was saddened by the fact that “not many persons have utilised this provision in the law”. He explained that the law allowed a complainant to recover damages of up to $5 million per breach.
Since its inception in 1993, the FTC has received a total of 5,131 complaints about breaches. The Agency has so far completed investigations into 4,465 of those cases.
Recently, the FTC’s Executive Director, Barbara Lee noted that the organisation did not have adequate resources to handle the growing number of cases that were brought before it each year.
She pointed out that the Commission has had to carry out its function on a budget of only $40 million per annum.
The FTC recently celebrated its 10th anniversary under the theme Competition for Economic Growth and Development.

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