Following the sale of Wizard Home Loans, owned by GE Money, to AHL Investments Pty Ltd (Aussie Home Loans), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has decided to not object to the collective bargaining agreements lodged by a group of franchisees in relation to negotiating aspects of franchise agreements.
Collective bargaining refers to two or more competitors collectively negotiating terms and conditions with a supplier or customer. Without protection, it can raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974. Small businesses can obtain protection from legal action under the Act for collective bargaining arrangements by lodging a notification with the ACCC. Provided the ACCC does not object to the notified arrangement, protection commences 14 days after lodgment.
Under the Act, the ACCC will only object to and remove the immunity provided by a collective bargaining notification when it is satisfied that any public benefits from the proposed collective bargaining arrangement would not outweigh the public detriments.
ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said in this case the collective negotiations will result in transaction costs savings to the group and enable the franchisees to better consider their options in the limited time available. “The ACCC considers that the potential for anti-competitive impact is limited, taking into account the competitive nature of the industry, and the fact that participation in the negotiations is voluntary for all parties involved,” Mr Samuel said.