When should private property rights give way to the public interest?

Corones, Stephen G. (2014) When should private property rights give way to the public interest? Australian Business Law Review, 42(2), pp. 124-130.

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Since Queensland Wire Industries Pty Ltd v Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd (1989) 167 CLR 177 it has been recognised that corporations with substantial market power are subject to special responsibilities and restraints that corporations without market power are not. In NT Power Generation Pty Ltd v Power and Water Authority (2004) 219 CLR 90 McHugh A-CJ, Gummow, Callinan and Heydon JJ in their joint reasons stated (at [76]), that s 46 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) (CCA) can operate not only to prevent firms with substantial market power from doing prohibited things, but also compel them positively to do things they do not want to do. Their Honours also stated (at [126]) that the proposition that a private property owner who declines to permit competitors to use the property is immune from s 46 is “intrinsically unsound”. However, the circumstances in which a firm with substantial power must accommodate competitors, and private property rights give way to the public interest are uncertain.

The purpose of this Note is to consider recent developments in two areas of the CCA where the law requires private property rights to give way to the public interest. The first part of the Note considers two recent cases which clarify the circumstances in which s 46 of the CCA can be used to compel a firm with substantial market power to accommodate a competitor and allow the competitor to make use of private property rights in the public interest. Secondly, on 12 February 2014 the Minister for Small Business, the Hon Bruce Billson,released the Productivity Commission’s Final Report, on the National Access Regime in Pt IIIA of the CCA (National Access Regime, Inquiry Report No 66, Canberra). Pt IIIA provides for the processes by which third parties may obtain access to infrastructure owned by others in the public interest. The Report recommends that Pt IIIA be retained but makes a number of suggestions for its reform, some of which will be briefly considered.

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ID Code: 70965
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: private proprty rights, Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth), public interest
ISSN: 0310-1053
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Corporations and Associations Law (180109)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Property Law (excl. Intellectual Property Law) (180124)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Commercial & Property Law Research Centre
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 Thomson Reuters (Professional) Australia Limited
Deposited On: 05 May 2014 04:25
Last Modified: 08 May 2014 04:24

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