COVID-19 and Competition Law – Nigerian Intervention, and Lessons from Around the World

Covid19 and Competition Law

Since Coronavirus was officially declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020 by the World Health Organization, it has ignited difficult times for individuals, businesses and the global economy in general. There is virtually no sector of the world economy that is not disrupted, everyone now works from home, many cities and commercial hubs are on lockdown as part of containment measures. As a result of this unprecedent challenge, people engage in panic buying of the most essential commodities, and the market has provided an incentive for some businesses to engage in anti-competitive conducts like price gouging and price hiking.

Aside from price-related breaches of competition law, horizontal coordination measures are now put in place by businesses to provide essential services to consumers in order to keep the economy afloat. Such coordination, which ordinarily raises competition red flags, is now temporarily permitted in some jurisdictions, especially as the economy now runs on a skeletal basis. As the exigencies of the pandemic seem to have upended market practice, one wonders if competition law rules are fit for this perilous time and ponders on the intervention of the Nigerian Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (the Commission or FCCPC) in the situation.

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