Competition law and policy, a highly specialized discipline of law and economics, is of growing relevance worldwide. The area is comparatively new to Jamaica and the Caribbean – the Jamaican Competition Agency (the oldest in the region) being only 25 years, and others such as those of Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and the Eastern Caribbean States being more recently established. Another recent body, the CARICOM Competition Commission, a regional Competition Authority headquartered in Suriname and which applies competition rules in respect of all cross-border business conduct in the region, was established in 2008.
Competition law is and should be treated as, an immediate concern for all businesses in Jamaica and the Caribbean. It is of increasing importance as Article 8 of the WTO GATS 1994 (General Agreement on Trade in Services) proscribes monopolization or the abuse of dominance and, consistent with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, there is a move to harmonise competition law in CARICOM states. Additionally, a recent judgment of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that mergers and acquisitions are subject to review by the Jamaican Fair Trading Commission. A failure to comply with competition rules could result in merging entities suffering business inconvenience and even significant losses if remedies are applied after the merger.