Guidance

Merger review and anti-competitive activity from 1 January 2021

How merger review and investigations into anti-competitive activity will change from 1 January 2021.

The UK has left the EU

This page tells you what you'll need to do from 1 January 2021. It'll be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.

Overview

The UK will no longer be part of the EU competition system from 1 January 2021.

Businesses operating in the UK must continue to comply with UK competition law as they do now and those operating in the EU must comply with EU competition law.

Responsibility for investigating cases

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will have sole jurisdiction over investigating mergers and cases of anti-competitive conduct which affect the UK market from 1 January 2021.

The European Commission will continue to have jurisdiction over live EU antitrust and merger cases that it has opened, but not completed, before 1 January 2021. It will also have jurisdiction over the monitoring and enforcement of commitments given or remedies imposed in connection with cases over which it had or continues to have jurisdiction. However, it is possible for the monitoring and enforcement of such commitments or remedies to be transferred to the CMA.

Read about the functions of the CMA from 1 January 2021.

Actions for businesses and other stakeholders

Most businesses will not need to take any action unless you are subject to an ongoing investigation or considering a merger transaction.

Mergers

The UK will no longer be part of the EU merger system from 1 January 2021. Businesses considering a merger that will affect both UK and EU markets will need to comply with UK and EU merger rules.

Businesses should contact both the CMA and the European Commission where they meet the relevant thresholds.

Live merger cases which have been opened by the European Commission, but not completed before 1 January 2021, will continue to be investigated by the European Commission.

Antitrust

Businesses operating in the UK and the EU will need to comply with UK and EU anti-trust rules from 1 January 2021. Breaches of these rules may be investigated by UK and EU competition authorities in parallel where it affects both markets.

Live anti-trust cases which have been opened by the European Commission, but not completed before 1 January 2021, will continue to be investigated by the European Commission.

Block exemptions

The EU block exemption regulations that currently exempt certain types of agreements from competition rules where there are benefits for consumers will be preserved in the UK. This includes their expiry dates.

Businesses will want to satisfy themselves that they continue to fall within the terms of the preserved exemptions, but the intention is that agreements that benefit from these exemptions should continue to do so.

Damages

European Commission and CJEU decisions in ongoing anti-trust cases that the European Commission has opened before 1 January 2021 will have binding effect in the UK.

Businesses should take independent legal advice about pursuing any claim.

Published 8 August 2019

Transition period

Find out what it means for you