Companies considering The Bahamas as a business base may be attracted here because of the lack of anti-trust laws. The terms “anti-trust” or “antitrust” refer to specific laws or regulations enacted with the goal of protecting commerce from unfair business practices, monopolies, and other anti-competition and anti-free market practices. For examples, some countries require that two large companies seeking to merge obtain approval from a government body before they can do so, in an attempt to prevent one company from monopolizing or controlling the market in an industry.
The Bahamas has no general anti-trust laws geared toward preventing monopolies or other anti-competitive business practices. Indeed, the opposite is true in some industries – businesses may be granted contract rights to become the exclusive provider of services in a certain area. For other industries, The Bahamas has enacted certain anti-trust laws. Unlike in other countries with anti-trust regimes, these laws apply only to specific industries or types of businesses.
Bahamian law imposes anti-trust restrictions on the electronic communications industry. The Communications Act, 2009 along with the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority Act, 2009 (URCAA) and related laws regulate mergers that could stifle competition, prohibit agreements that are anti-competitive, and restrict companies from abusing their dominance in the industry. In particular, the URCAA establishes the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA), a regulatory authority that monitors the utilities and electronic communications companies in The Bahamas to detect and prevent legal violations.
The Communications Act prohibits specific types of agreements that restrict trade. Electronic communications companies may not enter into agreements that 1) may affect trade in The Bahamas and 2) aim to prevent, restrict, or distort competition in The Bahamas. Communications Act, Section 67. Companies may not fix prices or share supply sources with the aim of restricting trade.
Further, URCA must approve all mergers or other changes in control at electronic communications companies. URCA evaluates the terms of any such transaction, information about the acquirer, the acquired company, and their shareholders, and related financial information to determine if the merger is anti-competitive. Communications Act, Sections 70-78.
The electronic communications anti-trust laws are industry-specific, but perhaps in the future The Bahamas will consider a comprehensive anti-trust regime for all of its industries.
To find out more about anti-trust laws in The Bahamas, visit Gonsalves-Sabola Chambers online or call the office at +1 242 326 6400.