Directorate of Legal & Enforcement
The Directorate of legal & enforcement is headed by a director who is assisted by a manager-legal & enforcement and two legal assistant. The directorate’s main function is to act for and on behalf of the Commission in relation to all legal matters related to the Commission’s operations. The directorate legal advisor of the Commission and as such is indirectly or directly involved in all matters handled by the Commission from investigation stage until the disposal thereof. The directorate is also responsible for ensuring that all actions and decisions of the Commission are within the confines of its mandate as stipulated by law. The directorate’s vision is to “To prevent harm to competition and consumers.”
Key focus areas
- The directorate manages all litigation instituted by or against the Commission
- Processes cases from all departments that require legal input or enforcement
- The directorate spearheads any review of the legal framework
Basis for enforcement
The legal basis on which the Commission enforces competition and consumer law in Zambia is the Competition and Consumer Protection Act, No. 24 of 2010. (“the Act), which empowers the Commission to carry out investigations, impose fines, issue directives or orders and to do all such acts and things as are necessary, incidental or conducive to the better carrying out of its functions under the Act.
Complaints are either initiated by the Commission or filed by members of the public or private firms. Where a prohibited practice is prima facie established following investigations, the matter is referred to the Board of Commissioners for adjudication. Where a party is aggrieved with the decision of the Board of Commissioners he/she may appeal to the Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal within 30 days of the said decision.
Primary advocate of competition and consumer protection
The Commission recognises its role as the primary advocate of competition and consumer protection under the Act.
The Commission has the power to intervene in all sectors of the economy in ensuring compliance in relation to its mandate under the Act. Most significantly, the Commission is empowered to issue fines, without recourse to court in most instances where a legal contravention is determined under the Act.
Further the law provides that the Commission may accept undertakings from erring enterprises or persons as well as enter into consent agreements with parties for purposes of redressing a legal contravention. This is a very good development as litigation is costly and not always effective in securing behavioural change compared to other enforcement tools as those mentioned above.
The Commission will strive to be balanced in its enforcement strategy which will seek to foster behaviour change, stop ongoing conduct, and secure future compliance and not simply punish wrongdoing. However where legal contraventions are blatant, repeated and result in significant detriment, the Commission will impose stiff fines against offenders or prosecute where necessary. Overall, the Commission will consider matters from the perspective of focusing on those matters where enforcement measures will result in a broader market impact by increasing compliance in a particular sector.
Cooperation and Consultation
The Commission values input it receives from other national regulators and its counterpart agencies from other jurisdictions as well as market players. It will continue to cooperate and consult especially in addressing market issues that require joint efforts for purposes of securing appropriate remedies.
In its consultations with consumers, traders and market players in general, the Commission endeavours to promote voluntary compliance and transparency.
This enforcement guideline is aimed at providing standards for enforcing the law in order to encourage greater levels of consistency, transparency and accountability on the part of the Commission.
In order to be effective, the law must be backed up with various enforcement mechanisms providing for processing of allegations, detection of legal contraventions and providing redress to persons who suffer harm or loss as a result of the violation as well as meting out appropriate sanctions to perpetrators.
When there is a contravention of the law, enforcement objectives include:
- Stopping the unlawful conduct;
- Obtaining redress for affected parties;
- Ensuring future compliance with the law;
- Raising awareness of the law;
- Deterring and punishing wrongdoers.
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission will choose those enforcement options that best serve those objectives relevant in each case in line with the law.
For purposes of implementing a fair approach to compliance and enforcement, and making strategic use of available resources, the following general criteria will be applied to all enforcement activities:
||Any enforcement action taken shall be proportionate to the legal contravention and the seriousness of the breach|
||A consistent approach in similar circumstances shall be taken to achieve consistent outcomes|
|Transparency:||Enforcement measures shall be applied clearly and openly so that business and consumers know what is expected of them and what they can expect when in contravention of the law.|