New measures to strengthen UK’s competition regime
This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
New measures that will strengthen and streamline the UK’s new competition regime have been outlined by the Competition Minister Jo Swinson
The proposals published in a consultation, Competition Regime: Draft Secondary Legislation – Part 2 include:
- the ability for the Competition Appeal Tribunal, as well as the High Court and Court of Session, to grant a warrant to enter premises. This will help streamline civil and criminal procedures for dealing with antitrust and cartel cases
- arrangements for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to coordinate the use of competition powers between economic regulators
- the ability to publish relevant information about agreements between businesses to bring them outside the criminal cartel offence
Competition Minister Jo Swinson said:
It is vital for the UK’s competition regime to be both strong and streamlined, protecting consumers and businesses alike from unfair practices.
These measures are part of wide-reaching reforms to improve the UK competition regime, making sure the new Competition and Markets Authority has the tools in place to operate efficiently and effectively from day one.
Alex Chisholm, Chief Executive Designate of the CMA, said:
The consultation announced today on the second set of draft guidance documents is another step in our journey towards the CMA. Guided by expert advice from the CMA Transition Team, these documents set out proposals for how David Currie and I intend the CMA to carry out its work.
They relate to significant steps forward in the tools we will operate, including a greater ability to prosecute criminal cartels, improved coordination over competition enforcement in the regulated sectors, and the CMA’s use of consumer powers in a reformed consumer protection landscape.
The proposed measures are part of a number of changes being made to the way competition cases are dealt with in the UK ahead of the CMA’s launch in April 2014. The changes include:
- giving the new authority stronger powers to investigate markets that are not working well
- making it easier to prosecute those involved in criminal cartels
- reforming antitrust procedures to improve the speed and quality of decision-making
- streamlining the merger regime
Today, the CMA Transition team is also publishing a second set of guidance documents for consultation.
The additional 6 guidance documents for consultation cover: the CMA’s approach to consumer protection; the CMA’s Competition Act investigation procedures and Competition Act rules of procedure; prosecution guidance for the criminal cartel offence; the concurrent application of competition law to regulated industries; the variation and termination of merger, monopoly and markets undertakings and orders; and the CMA’s proposed approach to the treatment of existing Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and Competition Commission (CC) Guidance.
The new authority will be the UK’s single leading body responsible for promoting competition for the benefit of consumers across the economy. It will provide essential services to business and consumers, operating with flexibility and with a more streamlined approach to decision making. Bringing together the CC and key consumer functions from the OFT, the CMA will be a powerful advocate of competition both in the UK and globally.
The consultations close on 11 November 2013.
Notes to Editors:
1.The CMA will be legally established on 1 October 2013 and become fully operational on 1 April 2014. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act which creates the CMA received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013. The new unified Authority will bring together the Competition Commission (CC) with the competition and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and will be responsible for advocating competition for the benefit of consumers. The CMA will bring about significant benefits to business and consumers, including greater coherence, flexibility, speed and transparency in the operation of the competition regime.
2.The government recognises and values the close relationship between competition problems and consumer activities. The CMA will therefore have the OFT and CC’s full competition toolkit as well as consumer protection enforcement powers. It will have the power to tackle practices and market conditions that make it difficult for consumers to exercise choice in an otherwise competitive market.
The secondary legislation from BIS
3.The BIS Statutory Instruments released today can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/competition-regime-draft-secondary-legislation-part-2
4.The deadline for submitting responses in relation to the BIS consultation is 11 November 2013. Anyone who wishes to comment can email email@example.com or write to:
Paul Griffiths, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, 3rd Floor, Orchard 2, 1 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0ET.
5.The second set of draft CMA guidance documents released today can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/competition-and-markets-authority-guidance-part-2
The deadline for submitting responses in relation to the CMA consultation is 11 November 2013. Anyone who wishes to comment can email.
CMA transition team guidance:
6.The CMA guidance consultation sets out how the CMA will work in practice, and how it will interact with businesses and individuals across the range of its powers and responsibilities. Views on the consultation documents are welcomed from businesses, their legal and other advisers, and other interested parties.
7.The introductory document, Towards the CMA, and the first five guidance documents - Mergers: guidance on the CMA’s jurisdiction and procedures; Market studies and market investigations: supplemental guidance on the CMA’s approach; Administrative penalties: statement of policy on the CMA’s approach; Cost recovery in telecoms price control references: guidance on the CMA’s approach and Transparency and disclosure: statement of the CMA’s policy and approach were published for consultation on 15 July 2013 and the consultation closed on 6 September.
8.The current consultation covers the following areas:
- guidance on investigation procedures in Competition Act 1998 (CA98) cases, discussing the proposed approach to the use of investigation and enforcement powers under the CA98 Competition and Markets Authority Competition Act 1998 Rules, which outline procedural rules that the CMA and sector regulators will follow when investigating and enforcing competition law under the CA98
- guidance on the approach to the variation and termination of merger, monopoly and market undertakings and orders
- Competition Law in the Regulated Industries: Concurrent application to regulated industries guidance, discussing the proposed approach to the application of competition law in the concurrent sectors, and the arrangements for cooperation between the CMA and the concurrent regulators
- guidance on the CMA’s approach to use of its consumer powers, which explains the CMA’s core consumer functions as a result of the changes brought about by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013, its proposed approach to promoting business compliance with consumer protection law, the use of its civil and criminal enforcement powers, and how it will work in partnership with co-enforcers to build an effective consumer enforcement regime
- prosecution guidance on the criminal cartel offence, discussing the principles to be applied in determining, in any case, whether proceedings for an offence should be instituted under the criminal cartel offence
- views will also be sought on proposals to put certain other existing OFT and CC guidance documents to the CMA Board for adoption as CMA documents
9.The Transition Team, which has been convened by the CMA Chair Designate and Chief Executive Designate, consists of individuals from the OFT, the CC and elsewhere. Pending formal creation of the CMA on 1 October 2013, the OFT and CC act on behalf of the CMA through the Transition Team.
10.The creation of the CMA will reduce inefficiency, duplication and overlap in our markets and mergers regimes and ensure that we have a single authority with the right powers and flexibility to use the best processes in tackling competition problems. The CMA will build on the best of the OFT and CC to become a world-leading competition authority, advocating competition both at home and abroad. It will have a greater role in ensuring competition in regulated sectors is being addressed, as co-operation and information sharing between itself and sectoral regulators will be enhanced. Resource allocation will be improved, and business will benefit from having just one streamlined organisation to deal with.
11.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:
- to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.