Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked and Supreme Court President Miriam Naor are considering turning the Restrictive Trade Practices Tribunal into a full-fledged court, sources inform "Globes." The change is being urged by Antitrust Authority director general Michal Halperin, who sees a need for the establishment of a professional court to hear antitrust cases. Located in Jerusalem, the Restrictive Trade Practices Tribunal currently has the authority to hear appeals of Halperin's decisions.
According to the plan, the court will have more authority than the tribunal. It will continue hearing appeals of the Antitrust Authority director general's decisions, while also hearing claims involving restrictive trade practices, including class actions lawsuits. Such claims are currently filed at various courts around Israel. At the same time, criminal proceedings dealing with breaches of antitrust law, such as the criminal trial of former Shufersal Ltd. (TASE:SAE) president and CEO Efi Rosenhaus, will not be held in the new court; they will still be heard by various judges in the Jerusalem District Court.
The looming decision to create a special court is not taking place in a vacuum; it is part of an entire revolution in antitrust policy in Israel. The Antitrust Authority recently dropped the idea of a more conciliatory policy on holding groups in Israel. In coordination with Halperin, Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen is planning to submit an amendment to the Restrictive Trade Practices Law designed to adapt antitrust law to the current situation. Among other things, the amendment will revise the definition of a monopoly, so that it will be defined by market power, not a market share of over 50%. Such an amendment is likely to affect prominent commercial concerns that have not hitherto been subject to restrictions, such as Osem Investments Ltd. (controlled by Nestle SA (SWX:NESN)), Strauss Group Ltd. (TASE:STRS), and the major banks - Bank Hapoalim (TASE: POLI) and Bank Leumi (TASE: LUMI). Furthermore, as reported by "Globes" correspondent Yuval Azulai, the Antitrust Authority director general is considering additional changes in the Restrictive Trade Practices Law that will allow mergers between two companies with a combined turnover of up to NIS 350 million without prior approval from the Antitrust Authority.
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on September 12, 2017
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