The New Brazilian Competition Law – Two Years On

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Paulo Leonardo Casagrande, Jul 16, 2014

On May 29, 2012, Law n. 12,529/11—the New Brazilian Competition Law—entered into force, after being enacted as a result of more than seven years of discussions within the Brazilian National Congress. The New Law superseded the first effective competition statute of the country, Law 8,884/94, enacted in 1994 concurrently with significant liberalization reforms.

The most important changes established by the New Law concern merger review and the institutional structure of the authorities. The Previous Law had established a non-suspensory merger control regime in Brazil, under which parties were allowed to close transactions before the final decision of the competition authority. Besides being at odds with international experience, this resulted in difficulties to the authorities and many uncertainties to merging parties, especially in complex transactions. The New Law set up a pre-merger review system, consistent with the reality of most countries.

The New Law also consolidated the investigatory and the decision-making authorities into one single agency, in order to increase efficiency and support the new pre-merger review system. Such institutional reform also mirrors those adopted elsewhere in the world.

What to say two years after the New Law entered into force? The present article aims at providing a brief overview of recent developments in the Brazilian competition law and policy as a result of the implementation of the new statute. It is organized in three sections: the first describes the institutional changes; the second explains the new pre-merger control regime, with some aspects of its enforcement in the last two years; and the third provides details of anticompetitive practices investigations, with a focus on cartels. A brief conclusion follows.