The Role and Nature of the Public Interest in South African Competition Law

Author: Quentin du Plessis

ISSN: 1996-2185
Affiliations: Pupil member of the Johannesburg Bar
Source: South African Mercantile Law Journal, Volume 32 Issue 2, 2020, p. 234 – 252


The Competition Act 89 of 1998 requires consideration of the ‘public interest’ when considering mergers. Whereas public interest considerations are generally assumed not to be cognisable in competition terms, in this article I argue the opposite. Specifically, I argue that if the underlying policy goal of the Act is accepted to be economic efficiency as opposed to allocative efficiency, and if ‘public interest’ as it is used in the Act is understood to be concerned mainly with the reduction of inequality, then it follows that the public interest is cognisable in competition terms, since inequality hurts economic efficiency.