ACCC takes on ANZ for round two

by 11 Dec 2013
The ACCC has appealed against the Federal Court's decision to clear ANZ of price fixing.

The Federal Court last month dismissed allegations that ANZ had breached the price fixing provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (now Competition and Consumer Act 2010) through its conduct with Mortgage Refunds.

The ACCC had alleged that in 2004 ANZ had required Mortgage Refunds to agree to limit the amount of the refund it could provide to its customers in respect of arranging ANZ home loans.

It was alleged that ANZ made and gave effect to an agreement where it would only allow Mortgage Refunds to continue to be accredited to offer ANZ mortgage products if it agreed to limit any refund it paid to its customers to $600, which would allow ANZ branches to match the deal if they chose to waive the ANZ loan establishment fee.

The ACCC alleged that this amounted to price fixing because ANZ and Mortgage Refunds were competitors in the market for the provision of loan arrangement services.

On November 18 the Federal Court found that ANZ did not participate in a market for the provision of loan arrangement services and consequently that ANZ and Mortgage Refunds were not competitors in this market.  As a result, ANZ’s conduct was found not to amount to a price fixing agreement and Justice Dowsett dismissed the ACCC’s application.

Rod Sims, ACCC Chairman, said at the time of the dismissal that anti-competitive agreements between competitors are a priority for the ACCC.

“When businesses seek to fix, control or maintain the prices, rebates or discounts offered by their competitors, this can prevent or hinder competition, forcing up prices and reducing choices for consumers.

“In this case, the ACCC was concerned that the conduct affected price competition, which would ultimately impact upon consumers.

“It was especially significant that this conduct took place in the market for mortgage arrangement services, as home loans are a major cost for many people,” says Sims.

The ACCC declined to comment further on its appeal.


  • by Positivity 12/12/2013 11:07:04 AM

    Dear Justice of the Federal Court.

    Call me an expert witness if you like:

    ANZ absolutely "participates in" the market for mortgage arangement services.

    ANZ receives applications, ACTUALLY PROVIDES MORTGAGES, as well as paying and profiting from those who arrange and those who take out mortages.

    This IS participation

    Just letting you know as it might be relevant to the case.

  • by George Caras 14/12/2013 4:17:52 PM

    Obviously the banks compete with brokers, it's all about price! At the end of the day it's who provides the cheapest solution. If a broker sells the banks own products at a cheaper price the customers going to go with the broker everytime. This case is just yet another clear demonstration of how real competition is being weeded out of Australia by big business. The ACCC need to grow some teeth and the government needs to stop playing favorites.