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Review of Bruce, Butterworths Student Companions: Restrictive Trade Practices Law (Sydney: Butterworths, 1999)

Author: Weeliem Seah LLB (Hons), BComm, GDLP
Murdoch University School of Law
Issue: Volume 7, Number 2 (June 2000)

  1. Restrictive trade practices, commonly referred to as 'anti-trust' and 'competition' law, has assumed greater significance in the last few years following the passage of the Competition Policy Reform Act 1995 (Cth) and the introduction of the Competition Code. The effect of the Competition Code was to create a 'Schedule version' of the restrictive trade practices provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth) which applied to 'persons'. It therefore extended the scope of Part IV, the Part containing the restrictive trade practices provisions, beyond 'corporations' as the Trade Practices Act was originally limited (except for a complex and limited extension based on s 6 of the Act) due to its reliance on the Commonwealth Constitution's corporations power.

  2. Bruce's Restrictive Trade Practices Law is one in the 'Butterworths' Student Companions' series, which aims to provide a 'quick reference tool' of the 'most important and recent cases in the field of Restrictive Trade Practices Law.' It achieves this aim by listing close to a hundred cases in alphabetical order, providing catchwords, background facts and holdings for each of them. It does so in a straightforward and clear manner. This allows Restrictive Trade Practices Law to be an effective study aid.

  3. It is however, not intended to be a treatise or a 'cases and commentary' text and cannot be used as such. It does not delve into the restrictive trade practices provisions themselves nor into the depth of the case law. Its greatest strength is that its format permits students to immediately identify the context of a case and the general principle for which it stands. In this regard, it is useful for research and study, allowing students to decide which cases are relevant to the matter under scrutiny and therefore which cases to read in detail. It will not solely and directly assist students in gaining a depth of understanding in the area of restrictive trade practices necessary for academic success, but as was said, this is not the aim of the book.

  4. The only criticism, if one could be made, is that it has poor timing. With very few misuse of market power cases so far being handed down, the recent publication of Restrictive Trade Practices Law has unfortunately missed the opportunity to include the pending decision in ACCC v Boral Ltd, a decision which is likely to have significant implications for the concept of predatory pricing and market definition under s 46 of the Trade Practices Act.

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