The new Competition Act 2006 has been signed into law and takes effect from tomorrow.

The act will finally abolish the controversial Groceries Order, which banned selling goods at below cost price.

The order was first introduced 18 years ago to prevent small shops being driven out of business by large supermarket chains.

Following a review by the Enterprise Minster, Micheál Martin, and despite calls from RGDATA and a number of Fianna Fáil backbenchers for the retention of the order, it has now been replaced.

Last March, the Consumer Strategy Group recommended that the order be scrapped and replaced with more competitive legislation.

A review was undertaken by Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Micheál Martin and, despite calls from RGDATA and a number of FF backbenchers for its retention, it has now been replaced.

Minister Martin said the single most important reason for getting rid of the order is that it has kept prices of groceries in Ireland at an artificially high level by allowing suppliers to dictate price.

The new act also governs unfair price discrimination and bans 'hello money'.