Legal Services & Compliance
The broad operational mandate of the Legal Services and Compliance Division (“Legal Division”) is to provide legal advice and attending to all legal matters of the Commission including the compliance practices with all the relevant legislation, such as the COMESA Treaty, the COMESA Competition Regulations and Rules and relevant domestic legislations of Member States.
Main Functions and Activities
The main functions of the Legal Division are guided by the following Strategic Objectives derived from the Commission’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan for which it is the lead/Responsible Division:
1. Promote and protect due process of law.
Under this strategic objective, the Legal Division provides legal advice and support to the Commission, which includes, inter alia, the provision of legal guidance on the interpretation and application of relevant legal instruments and administrative and/or operational issues of the Commission. The bulk of the Division’s work comes from requests for legal guidance or legal opinions from other Divisions and Units of the Commission that are responsible for the investigation and enforcement of infringements of the COMESA Competition Regulations.
Overall, the Legal Division ensures that the Commission, being a regional competition and consumer protection regulator with investigative and adjudicative functions, its operations and proceedings respect procedural justice/rules of natural justice as provided by the COMESA Treaty, its Regulations, Rules and all relevant legislation in the protection of the rights of the parties. The specific activities of the Legal Division under this strategic objective include the following:
- Provide well researched, clear and timely legal advice to the Commission.
- Provide continuous and clear guidance on the interpretation and application of the Regulations and other legal instruments.
- Ensure the rights and defences of parties are respected in the proceedings of the Commission.
- Ensure that the decisions of the Commission take into account all relevant facts.
- Support the negotiation and monitoring of undertakings/commitments submitted to the Commission by parties.
2. Enhance compliance with the Commission’s decisions.
The Legal Division is responsible for ensuring that the decisions of the Commission and the Board of Commissioners resulting from the legal enforcement powers are fully complied with by the concerned parties and Member States. The specific activities under this strategic objective include:
- Coordinate with the COMESA Secretariat in engaging Member States to give the Regulations the force of law and legal effect in their respective territories.
- Support Member States to harmonise and align new or existing national competition and consumer protection and the regional competition laws.
- Ensure the implementation of, and compliance with, the Commission’s decisions in the territories of the Member States.
- Encourage and support Businesses to develop compliance programs.
- Enhance the capacity of the Judiciary in the handling of competition and consumer protection cases.
3. Enhancing the legal framework
The Legal Division is responsible for the drafting and review of all relevant legislation which includes Regulations, Rules, and Guidelines. The Division also assist with the drafting of other legal instruments including contracts. This is done through continuous review and updating of the regional competition and consumer policy and law in line with key developments and best practices at national, regional and international levels. The specific activities under this strategic objective include:
- Develop, review and update the Regulations, Rules, Procedures, Guidelines, Manuals, Forms and any other legal instruments.
- Establish cooperation frameworks with National Competition Authorities in Member States through MOUs.
- Provide technical assistance to Member States to enact or review national competition and consumer laws and set up and operationalise national competition and consumer institutions.
- Keep up to date on all key developments and international best practices in competition and consumer law and recommend appropriate policy and legal review.
- Build a structured relationship with national courts and national competition and consumer protection authorities aimed at facilitating the enforcement of the Regulations at the national level.
4. Litigation and Enforcement of Commission Decisions
The Legal Division is also involved in assisting the relevant Commission Divisions with the management of litigation when cases are referred to the COMESA Competition Commission Appeals Board and the COMESA Court of Justice. The Legal Division is also responsible for enforcing the Commission’s orders and decisions against respondents by applying to the relevant national courts for appropriate orders when undertakings fail to comply with the decisions of the Commission or the COMESA Court of Justice.