Sarah Best Headshot

Sarah Best

Special Counsel

Call Sarah +61 2 8915 1007
Call Sarah +61 488 137 042

Competition and consumer law can be complex and knowing the ACCC’s approach on matters is all important in an ever-changing regulatory landscape. I love to make these issues easier for a client to understand and to help them make well informed, strategic decisions for their business.

My practice focuses on competition and consumer law especially in consumer goods, manufacturing and data supply industries. I am very much solutions oriented and aim to find ways around legal road blocks to ensure that clients can run their businesses within the limits of the law. I value building connections with people and really understanding my clients’ businesses.

I advise on anti-competitive conduct and the impact of competition law on commercial activities like distribution and supply chain arrangements, exclusivity provisions, joint venture/collaboration agreements and intellectual property licensing arrangements.

I also advise on merger clearances and provide related competition law structuring advice, setting up information sharing protocols to manage the flow of information between parties to minimise the risks of gun jumping prior to the close of deals.

I also advise suppliers including retailers and online platforms on consumer law issues including misleading and deceptive conduct, consumer guarantees, unfair contract terms, advertising and advertising sign-offs and general compliance with the Australian Consumer Law.

I represent clients in dealings with the ACCC including investigations and enforcement actions and my strong advocacy and solutions-based approach has led to great outcomes for clients in adversarial and cooperative contexts. I have worked on numerous regulatory investigations and inquiries and advised on and obtained merger clearances for various domestic transactions.

I regularly work with clients to provide targeted and client specific training sessions on competition and consumer law issues that help their teams understand the do’s and don’ts that specifically apply to their businesses.

Bega Cheese — obtained merger clearance from the ACCC and provided competition law advice in relation to various transactions including its 2020 acquisition of Lion Dairy & Drinks, owners of the Dairy Farmers, Yoplait, Big M, Masters and Dare and Farmers Union iced coffee brands; its 2018 acquisition of Saputo’s Koroit processing facility; and its 2017 acquisition of various assets from Mondelez Australia including the Vegemite and Kraft peanut butter brands. These were significant projects for Bega Cheese because of their size and the complex legal and commercial issues they raised as well as the commercial importance of securing fast and uncontested merger clearance. They also involved the provision of competition law structuring advice and the setting up of information sharing protocols to manage the flow of information between the parties prior to completion.

Bega Cheese Limited/Dairy Inquiry — advised Bega Cheese in responding to a section 95ZK notice issued by the ACCC as part of the Federal Government’s enquiry into the dairy industry in Australia. This was a significant project because of the enormous amount of documentation required to be reviewed and produced to respond to the ACCC’s notice, requiring the use a mix of human and technological solutions.

The Coca-Cola Company — advised TCCC in relation to the competition law issues associated with a number of transactions including its 2018 acquisition of a 45% interest in the Made Group of Companies (owners of Cocobella, Rockeby Farms and Impressed Juice brand of products) together with its bottler, Coca-Cola Amatil.

Decathlon — represented Decathlon in relation to a section 155 notice issued to it by the ACCC, the subsequent ACCC investigation and then proceedings which were commenced by the ACCC against Decathlon arising out of breaches of various mandatory safety standards.

Competition and consumer law review of customer sales agreements of funeral services client — provided competition and consumer law advice on the bundling and pricing provisions in this client’s customer sales agreements. This involved a complex assessment of markets for the supply of various goods and services, taking into account the current status quo in 2020 and potential structural reform being slated by the State Government.

Merger and structuring advice for FMCG client — provided competition law advice to a key offshore FMCG client in relation to their majority investment in a local manufacturing company. This involved an in-depth analysis of our client’s Australian business and the acquisition target and then setting up protocols and guidelines to be followed locally to ensure compliance with competition law.

Competition law review of commercial supply arrangement for FMCG client — completed an in-depth competition law review for a key client in relation to an exclusivity restraint and its rollover in a core commercial supply agreement with a retailer. This involved an assessment of the purpose and effect of the restraint on competition in various FMCG markets which amongst other things required an analysis of market scan data and consumer behaviour data.

Advice on global buying consortium — advised an FMCG client on a local subsidiary’s proposed involvement in a global buying consortium. This involved a complex analysis of various legal and practical issues in order for the competition law risks associated with the proposal to be assessed.

Cartel conduct and resale price maintenance audit for key client — conducted comprehensive and in-depth cartel conduct and resale price maintenance audits for a key client of the firm over multiple years as part of the client’s compliance initiatives and in order to assist the client in determining the level of competition law risk exposure within their sales team. These audits involved the review of an enormous number of emails and documentation, requiring the use of a mix of human and technological solutions.

Indigenous Business Australia — advised on a suite of commercial funding agreements with a financial institution and the Federal Government and associated competition law structuring requirements. This involved an analysis of back-to-back contractual arrangements and advising on protocols and guidelines to be followed to ensure compliance with competition law.

Reebok Australia — acted as Compliance Auditor to this client to undertake an annual review of an Australian Consumer Law Compliance Program Reebok Australia as ordered by the Federal Court of Australia arising out of proceedings brought against it by the ACCC for false and misleading advertising.

Colgate-Palmolive and Hill’s Pet Nutrition — reviewed various different types of commercial contracts for this client over the years, advising on both general contract law issues as well as consumer law and privacy issues. I also provide strategic competition law advice from time to time in relation to these clients’ various supply channels and distribution arrangements and pricing policies.

Committees and memberships

Member, Competition Law Discussion Group

Member, Law Society of NSW

Member, Law Council of Australia, Business Law Section

Industries

Agribusiness

Dairy

FMCG

Gambling

Manufacturing

Technology

Qualifications

Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (Honours), The University of Sydney