Interim authorisations to support businesses affected by COVID-19 – From ACCC

The ACCC has been approached by companies from a number of industries and sectors who want to be able to support small business in these difficult times. These include banks, shopping centre owners and managers, and insurance companies.

Companies in these sectors want to be able to work with their competitors to support small business. However, they must seek authorisation from the ACCC to do this, as certain conduct would ordinarily risk breaching the Competition and Consumer Act. The ACCC must be satisfied that the likely public benefit from the conduct outweighs the likely public detriment.

In response to COVID-19 we are moving very quickly to grant interim authorisations that aim to support businesses.

The ACCC has granted a number of interim authorisations to assist small to medium-sized Australian businesses experiencing unprecedented financial hardship. This includes the following: Granting an interim authorisation for shopping centre owners and managers to work together to come up with a plan to support their small to medium business tenants facing financial difficulties. This includes franchisees and licensees which have a turnover of up to $50 million per annum. The plan may include offers to defer or reduce rents and other payments, waive interest payments and extend leases. The application was made by Shopping Centre Council of Australia Limited (SCCA) and Scentre Group. The SCCA is an industry group representing Australia’s major shopping centre owners, managers and developers. Find out more in our media release.

* Granting an interim authorisation for insurance companies and brokers to work together to implement relief measures for certain small businesses.
* Existing eligible business customers suffering hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic can avail of the measures. These measures include deferring of insurance premium payments for up to six months, and credit or refunds for any unused travel premiums, without administration or cancellation fees.
* The authorisation applies to Suncorp, Allianz, and QBE Insurance, as well as any other insurers or insurance brokers who choose to take part, as long as they notify the ACCC.
* Find out more in our media release.
These interim authorisations allow the parties to engage in the proposed conduct while the ACCC considers the substantive application and responds to feedback raised following interim authorisation.

You can find out more about recent authorisations on the ACCC website at: Media releases. Also keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Kind regards, Small Business team Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)

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