Competition Regime in the UK

On 1 October 2013, the UK’s new competition body, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), came into existence.  The CMA is a new organisation bringing together two existing competition authorities, the Competition Commission (“CC”) and the Office of Fair Trading (“OFT”).  The CMA will acquire its powers on 1 April 2014.

The CMA has published a consultation document “Vision, values and strategy for the CMA”, and has requested views and comments from “interested parties”, including business and consumer groups.  The responses to the consultation will be fed into the first Annual Plan to be published by the CMA.  The consultation took place during the period 1 October to 12 November 2013.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (“ERRA 2013”) sets out the primary statutory duty to “… promote competition, both within and outside the United Kingdom, for the benefit of consumers”.  Further, the CMA’s mission is stated to be to make markets “… work well in the interests of consumers, businesses and the economy”.

The CMA has set out five proposed goals: deliver effective enforcement, extend competition frontiers, refocus consumer protection, achieve professional excellence and develop integrated performance.

The proposed strategy gives examples of the positive economic effects of completion including: employment rates boosted by 2.5-5.0% by reforms to state controls and barriers to competition.  In this context the Government has also published a draft “strategic steer” to set out priorities including a view that the CMA should assess specific sectors that “… could contribute to faster growth, working with responsible regulator where appropriate”, which might include financial services and the energy sector.

The CMA will make strategic choices, and more detail will be set out within the first Annual Plan.  There will be further opportunity to comment on the draft Annual Plan.

For advice or more information, contact  David Patterson.

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