Challenges and successes of the competition practice

February 1st, 2019
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Competition Commission Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele, spoke at the last annual gala breakfast of the Competition Law Committee of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces, held in October 2018 in Johannesburg.

By Kgomotso Ramotsho

The Competition Law Committee of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces held its last Annual Gala Breakfast in October 2018 in Johannesburg. The gala breakfast was organised and hosted by ENSafrica. Members of the panel discussed ‘Experiencing twenty years of competition practice’. The Competition Commission Commissioner, Tembinkosi Bonakele, said South Africa (SA) has challenges in the economic front and added that employment growth numbers were not impressive.

Mr Bonakele said this is a challenge and added that there can be talks about what the Competition Commission can contribute, however, there are concerns about the structure of the economy and concentration levels in the economy. He pointed out that another challenge, is with regards to developing competition experts. He said that SA could have done better in developing experts. He pointed out that when looking at who the experts are, the economic front is dominated by European experts, instead of local experts.

Mr Bonakele said it was easy for legal practitioners to make the transition into competition law. However, he added that another challenge is with economists. He said universities should produce a pool of economists that can help in the industry. Full-time member of the Competition Tribunal, Yasmin Carrim, added that the industry was not doing enough and that the pool of economists is small. She pointed out that it was not only up to universities to produce expert economists. She said the industry needed to grab the opportunity and utilise different strategies, such as giving practical training or internships to students, so that when they graduate they would have a sense of the work environment.

Full-time member of the Competition Tribunal, Yasmin Carrim, listed the quality of work done by competition law legal practitioners and economists in South Africa as one of the successes in the industry. She spoke at the last annual gala breakfast held in Johannesburg by the Competition Law Committee of the Law Society of the Northern Provinces.

Ms Carrim, however, said that from her personal experience, one of the successes in the industry has been the quality of work done by both legal practitioners and economists in the country. Mr Bonakele added that SA has made strides in establishing itself as a respected jurisdiction with locally developed practices and sharpened skills in the competition area, he noted that these were good signs. Judge President of the Competition Appeal Court, Dennis Davis, posed a question to Mr Bonakele with regards to work done by experts outside SA.

Mr Bonakele said the Competition Commission has relied on local experts. However, he pointed out that the issue is with the number of local experts. He noted that the country has knowledgeable experts even though they are few in numbers. He added that even though foreign experts are brought in to work in SA, they should team up with local experts as they understand the local conditions, they are open minded and are trained by the best in the world.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2019 (Jan/Feb) DR 11.