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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Importance of competition and Competition Order 2015

1. Why competition matters?

For businesses, competition stimulates firms to lower their own costs and run their businesses as efficiently as possible, be innovative as well as responsive to consumer needs. This in turn leads to more effective use of resources and greater productivity gains for the economy. Businesses, particularly smaller ones, would also have greater opportunities to enter and expand in new markets.

The more competition in the markets, the more the consumers will benefit. In a competitive market, businesses are competing to win consumers by keeping prices low and the quality and choice of products and services high. With competition, consumers enjoy a wide selection of diversed products and services across a broad price range.

2. Why do we need the Competition Order 2015?

Anti-competitive conducts can exist in any market and may cause harm to the economy. Thus, having a law which deters such conducts is crucial. The Competition Order 2015 prohibits anti-competitive conduct in order to promote market efficiency and consumer welfare in Brunei Darussalam. The Order aims to:
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Provide incentives and create a competitive environment for businesses to offer better quality, value for money and more innovative products and services for consumers;
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​Promote equal business opportunities and new market entrance;
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​Enhance productivity of key sectors;
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​Ensure efficient distribution of economic resources; and
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​Create a pro-business and pro-investment climate for better Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) outlook.

These are aimed towards achieving a sustainable economic growth in line with the Brunei Government’s efforts in achieving the goals of Wawasan Brunei 2035.

3. How does the Competition Order 2015 benefit consumers?

Competition Order 2015 may benefit both consumers and business alike through prohibition of anti-competitive conducts. Through healthy and fair competition in the market, businesses are expected to be more innovative, efficient and responsive to consumer needs. Consumers may benefit from the best possible prices, quantity, and quality of goods and services.

1)    Offer good value for money​ 

​2)    Provide more consumer choices
​3)    Provide better quality of goods and services
​4)    Be innovative
​5)    Increase productivity
​6)    Contribute to economic efficiency

4. How can the Competition Order 2015 help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)?

The Order covers all commercial activities relating to the provision of goods or services in the country regardless of business size. Through the prohibition of anti-competitive conduct, MSMEs are protected in a number of ways, including:

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Equal opportunities for business participation
The Order provides equal opportunities for businesses to participate in the market

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Reducing cost of inputs
The Order protects MSMEs from being overcharged by suppliers who may be involved in anti-competitive conduct

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Reducing barriers to entry
The Order helps deter businesses with a dominant position from imposing artificial barriers for MSMEs to enter or expand in the market

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Business efficiency
The Order encourages business to be more efficient and innovative to win customers.



Competition Order 2015


1. What is the Competition Order 2015?

The Competition Order 2015 is a law that seeks to promote and maintain healthy market competition by prohibiting business practices which restrain or restrict a fair competition process. It prohibits three key anti-competitive conducts as follows:

i.    Anti-competitive agreements;
ii.   Abuse of dominant position; and
iii.  Anti-competitive mergers.

2. What are the types of conduct prohibited by the Competition Order 2015?

​1.

Anti-Competitive Agreements
Agreements which prevent, distort or restrict competition in the market are prohibited under the Order, regardless of whether the agreements are reached formally or informally. Anti-competitive agreements between competitors are also known as cartels. Businesses should not engage in any of the following hard core cartel conducts:

  1. Price fixing
  2. Market sharing
  3. Supply control
  4. Bid rigging (tender collusion)

​2. 

Abuse of Dominant Position
The Order prohibits a business with significant power in a market from abusing its dominant position by engaging in anti-competitive conduct that can harm competition in the market. For instance:

 

  1. Deliberately selling below cost (Predatory pricing)
  2. Refusal to supply
  3. Applying dissimilar conditions for the same transaction

​3. 

Anti-Competitive Mergers
A merger that decreases competition in the market and negatively impacts consumers is prohibited.  For instance, merger that creates or reinforces a dominant position, resulting in reduced consumers’ choice of goods and services as well as higher prices.

3. Who does the Competition Order 2015 apply to?

The Order applies to all commercial activities across sectors regardless of ownership of the entity.

The Order does not apply to the Government and Statutory Bodies as well as any entities that carry out activities on behalf of them.

4. Are there any activities excluded from the application of the Order?

Excluded activities from the Order are mentioned in the Third Schedule and the Fourth Schedule such as services of general economic interest, compliance with legal requirements, avoidance of conflict with international obligations and public policy. To find out more, please click here

5. What are the penalties for infringements?

Any business that is found to have infringed the Order is subject to a financial penalty of up to 10% of their business annual turnover for each year of infringement, up to a maximum period of 3 years.

A business which contravened the Order may also face civil proceedings in court by any person who suffers loss or damage directly as a result of such contravention.

The Competition Commission may also issue an order to prevent the recurrence of the infringement such as requiring businesses to modify or terminate the anti-competitive agreement or conduct.

6. What are the investigative powers under the Competition Order 2015?

The Competition Order 2015 provides the following powers to investigate anti-competitive conducts:

  • Requests to produce specified documents or information from any person or business by giving written notice

  • Entry of premises to retrieve copies of relevant documents without court warrant after giving advance written notice to the occupants

  • Enter and search premises with a court warrant and to seize relevant documents and remove any equipment or article from the premises for investigation


Competition Authority

​1. Who is responsible in enforcing the Competition Order 2015?

The Competition Commission of Brunei Darussalam was established on 1 August 2017 with the mandate to promote business competition in Brunei Darussalam economic landscape through the enforcement of the Competition Order 2015. The Commission is an autonomous quasi-judicial body whose functions include adjudicating anti-competitive cases and imposing penalties on companies found to infringe the Competition Order 2015. 

The Competition and Consumer Affairs Department under the Department of Economic Planning and Development, Prime Minister's Office has also been established on 1 August 2017 as the administrative and investigative arms of the Commission. The Department acts as a Secretariat to administer the day-to-day affairs of the Commission as well as carries out functions such as advocating Competition Order 2015 to key stakeholders, receiving complaints, investigating anti-competitive cases and conducting market reviews. 

The Commission's decision may be subject to the Competition Appeal Tribunal.
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​2. How does the Competition Commission detect anti-competitive conduct?

The CCBD can detect anti-competitive conduct through various means and methods. For example, through information and complaints received as well as from businesses that are themselves involved in the anti-competitive conduct.

Businesses involved in such conduct and decided to come forward can be entitled to a reduction of penalties of up to a maximum of 100% under the leniency program provided in the Order.

Any complaints on anti-competitive conduct can be reported to the Chairman of the Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam through the Executive Secretariat of Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam at the following details: 

Executive Secretariat of the Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam 

Level 3, West Wing, Block 2A (JPKE Building)
Jalan Ong Sum Ping 
Bandar Seri Begawan BA1311
Negara Brunei Darussalam 


Please click here to download the complaint form.

​3. Can the Competition Commission address the issue of price increase in goods and services?

It is crucial to note that an increase in prices does not necessarily pose competition concerns nor it is evidence of cartels. The Competition Order aims to promote a competitive market and it does not regulate prices of goods and services. Businesses are allowed to set prices of goods and services as they may deem fit, as long as the pricing decision is made independently of any agreement with others.

In the event that an increase in price is a result of an anti-competitive conduct or collusion by businesses, the Competition Commission will take necessary actions to address the issue.

Trade Association and business conducts

​1. Does the Competition Order apply to trade associations?

Yes, section 11(4) states that the Competition Order applies to decisions made by an association which has the objective or the effects of preventing, restricting or distorting competition in Brunei.

2. What are the types of activities that an association can and cannot do to ensure compliance to the Order?

​3. Can an association establish price recommendations?

An association is not allowed to establish price recommendations as it may harm competition. Prices are supposed to be determined independently by businesses according to the demand and supply of the products or services. The act of price recommendation could induce businesses to set their prices around the recommended levels regardless of their costs, quality and target markets.

4. In the event where all suppliers are charging the same price, does that indicate that price fixing has happened?

Not necessarily. Some products in the market tend to have similar prices even without the presence of any agreements due to the homogeneity (products that are not substitutable or products with the same characteristics) of the products. 

5. Can exclusive agent or sole distributorship raise competition concern?

Generally, a company that has been appointed to be the sole agent or sole distributor of a certain product may not necessarily raise competition concern. This is because, usually the exclusive agent or sole distributorship agreement is justified by the benefits that it can bring to the economy especially for the small market and for a market where there is availability of substitute products. However, this will depend on the terms, conditions and also the impacts that the agreement has on the market as well as the market power of the exclusive agent or the sole distributorship.

Exclusive agent or sole distributorship will only be an issue under Competition Order if the agreement has the potential to have anti-competitive effects in a relevant market. This will prone to happen when the exclusive agent/sole distributorship has a degree of market power and that the agreement has the potential to stop new competitors from entering the market.

​6. Can businesses exchange information?

Businesses often share information –normal commercial behavior and often pro-competitive. However, some information sharing which harms the competitive process may raise concern to the Competition Commission. Businesses should not share commercially sensitive information such as future pricing, profit margin, cost and production quality.