Covid-19 Block Exemption for the Retail Property Sector

The Government has already taken swift action against the Coronavirus pandemic through regulations gazetted by the Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry (“the DTI”). On 24 March 2020, the Minister published further regulations in terms of section 10(10)[1] of the Competition Act, 89 of 1998 (“the Competition Act”).

These regulations extend an exemption to the retail property sector and aim to enable the retail property sector to minimise the negative impact on the ability of designated retail tenants, including small, independent retailers, to manage their finances during the national disaster and be in a position to continue normal operations beyond the national disaster.

The regulations further exempt agreements or practices between retail tenants  and/or retail property landlords  from scrutiny under sections 4 (agreements between competitors)  and 5 (agreements between suppliers, firms and customers) of the Competition Act for the sole purpose of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic national disaster and which exclude communication and agreements in respect of prices.

The exemption extends to all South African retail tenants in the designated retail lines, including small, independent retailers, unless otherwise authorised by the Minister or the Competition Commission. The designated trading lines for the purpose of the identification of designated retail tenants are to be found in the regulations which can be accessed through the link below.

The respective gazetted regulations can be accessed here: http://www.gpwonline.co.za/Gazettes/Gazettes/43134_24-3_DTI.pdf

We invite you to contact our Competition Law Team (jac.marais@adams.africa) if you have any questions in relation to the COVID-19 regulations under the Competition Act, or any related matter.

By:

Jac Marais | Partner

Misha van Niekerk | Senior Associate

Kameel Pancham | Candidate Attorney


[1] Section 10(10) The Minister may, after consultation with the Competition Commission, and in order to give effect to the purposes of this Act as set out in section 2, issue regulations in terms of section 78 exempting a category of agreements or practices from the application of this Chapter.