The Namibian Competition Commission has cautioned local law firm Dr Weder, Kauta & Hoveka Incorporated to cease and desist from directly engaging in correspondence with a complainant in a case pertaining to exclusive property conveyance services.
The NaCC initiated an investigation on 9 May 2022 against WKH and Bank Windhoek, following allegations of exclusive dealings in property conveyance services.
The investigation pertains to allegations that WKH and Bank Windhoek entered into an exclusive service-level agreement that appoints the former as the exclusive and sole conveyancing attorneys for properties financed through the bank. Conveyancing is the process of transferring a legal property title from one party to another, and conveyancing attorneys specialise in carrying out the legal work required for buying and selling property.
“It has come to the NaCC’s attention that WKH has addressed a correspondence to the complainant in which it demanded of him to provide them with evidence in support of the allegations levelled against WKH. The commission has to this effect taken serious exception of the conduct, and addressed correspondence to WKH in which it cautioned WKH to cease and desist from directly engaging in correspondence with the complainant insofar as this matter is concerned,” read a statement issued by the commission on Friday.
The statement added that decisions to initiate any investigation are made within the confines of the Competition Act, as contemplated by Section 33.
“The right to investigate allegations of anti-competitive conduct is in terms of Section 33 given to the commission, and not to the complainants concerned in any matter. The commission is in any event empowered by the same section to initiate investigations into anti-competitive conduct on its own motion. It, therefore, follows that even if a complainant withdraws his/her complaint as a result of whatever form of intimidation or threats levelled against them, the commission remains duty-bound to investigate. There is, therefore, no basis for respondents to engage with complainants in matters under investigation. The complainant in this matter has been advised not to directly engage WKH as the matter is now in the hands of the Namibian Competition Commission,” they stressed.
Furthermore, the NaCC also strongly discourages the practice where parties subject to investigations directly engage and intimidate complainants, as this may compromise investigations and the ability of the public to freely lay complaints with the commission.
“The commission records that the complainant in this matter did not wish to remain anonymous. Nevertheless, the Competition Act provides for members of the public to report anti-competitive practices anonymously,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, insofar as the legal practitioners’ ethical considerations are concerned, the commission advises that these are best referred to the Law Society of Namibia, as the regulatory body of the members of the legal profession in Namibia, to pronounce itself.
“The commission is in support of open justice and transparency. Parties subject to the commission’s investigations may at any time, during or after the investigation, approach the commission with proposals to amicably resolve the matter in accordance with the relevant provisions of its enabling legislation, being the Competition Act 2 of 2003,” the statement added.
Caption: Cease and desist… The NaCC initiated an investigation on 9 May 2022 against WKH and Bank Windhoek following allegations of exclusive dealings in property conveyance services.