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Wednesday, May 15, 2024
The Supreme Council of the Judicial Authority, in collaboration with the Competition Council, held on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, a colloquium on consumer guarantees in the context of legislation and the judiciary. This event was part of the 29th International Publishing and Book Fair in Rabat, held under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist Him.

Mr. Zakaria Al-Shafi’i, advisor in the Cabinet of the President Delegate of the Supreme Council of Judicial Power, noted that both the judiciary and the Competition Council are responsible for ensuring the enforcement of competition law and overseeing market competitiveness in Morocco, each within their respective purviews. The judiciary, with its general jurisdiction, handles all disputes brought before it, including those related to competition. He further explained that while the Competition Council’s primary jurisdiction, as outlined in Chapter 166 of the Kingdom’s Constitution and Articles 6, 7, and 8 of the Freedom of Prices and Competition Law, involves addressing practices that violate competition rules, the judiciary still plays a crucial role in ruling on such cases as long as the law on the Competition Council does not remove this authority.

The speaker further explained that the Moroccan legislator has chosen to integrate the judiciary with competition administrations to safeguard the economic public order. The judiciary is tasked with adjudicating cases related to the application of competition rules, whether these cases are civil, commercial, or criminal in nature. Additionally, the judiciary acts as an enforcement body for the decisions of competition authorities and oversees these decisions by ruling on any appeals against them.

In his remarks on the judiciary's role in competition and price freedom cases, Mr. Mohamed Shendid, the General Prosecutor of the King at the Court of First Instance in Rabat, noted that the Price Freedom and Competition Law is closely tied to the country's economic situation, reflects the government's economic policy, and regulates competition rules. Given that the Competition Council issues administrative decisions, it was necessary for the legislator to assign a judicial body to implement the provisions of this law and ensure adherence to its principles. This body also monitors the decisions of the Competition Council, evaluates the Council's application of the law, ensures the legal texts align with the Council's procedures, and reviews the classification of practices and actions that violate the Competition Law.

Mr. Shendid noted that Law 104.12 on price fixing and competition applies to both individuals and entities, regardless of whether they are based in the Kingdom of Morocco, as long as their activities impact the Moroccan market and affect competition. He further explained that this law covers all production, distribution, and service activities, including those conducted by legal entities governed by public law.

Mr. Rachid Houbabi, President of the Chamber of the Court of Appeal in Rabat, emphasized that the principle of competitive freedom is integral to liberal economic systems, which are associated with economic freedom rather than state direction and control. He noted that Morocco's decision to adopt a liberal free-market economy does not mean a complete departure from the regulations of the broader economic and competitive system. The latter necessitates oversight, regulation, and protection against practices that harm the competitive environment, ensuring sufficient but not excessive competition.

Mr. Hobabi further stated that regulating competition rules necessitates the establishment of precise legal mechanisms to ensure the development of fair competitive conditions. These mechanisms must consider the state's policies and citizens' rights, while also contributing, directly or indirectly, to attracting foreign investment.   

The speaker emphasized that discussing the judiciary's role in competition and price freedom involves understanding an integrated concept. This concept represents another foundational element established by the legislature to uphold legitimacy and balance conflicting viewpoints among different parties. These parties might include economic actors, the administration, and regulatory agencies overseeing competition, price freedom, and consumer protection. The judiciary must act as a neutral arbiter, drawing its decision-making authority from its inherent judicial nature, existing legal texts, and its role in interpreting and applying those texts.

Mr. Mohamed Abu Al-Aziz, Secretary General of the Competition Council, highlighted the role of competition in motivating companies towards creativity and innovation, encouraging investment, removing market entry barriers, improving the business climate, and boosting the overall competitiveness of the economy. Additionally, he noted its economic significance in enhancing the country's investment appeal, improving productivity and growth, stimulating economic activity, and ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of public procurement.

Mr. Abu Aziz added that competitiveness is crucial for consumer welfare, leading to a diverse supply of goods and services, higher quality products, and competitive pricing.

Mr. Abu Al-Aziz stated that the Competition Council, as a constitutional body, is responsible for regulating free and fair competition. Its duties include ensuring transparency and fairness in economic relations by analyzing and overseeing market competition, monitoring anti-competitive and illegal commercial practices, and addressing economic concentration and monopolistic activities.


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