Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy

Response to the Public Consultation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Proposals on Markets and Merger Control Jurisdiction

Euclid Law Ltd

We are submitting this paper from the position of practitioners who strongly believe that consumers, businesses and practitioners benefit from rational, predictable and up to date competition and consumer law regimes. The views stated are our own and do not necessarily represent the views of any client of our firm.

While the Government’s reform proposals are extremely wide-ranging, we have focused this response on the two areas where the proposed changes cause us most concern, namely the markets and merger control regimes.

[…] The Government’s consultation looks at strengthening the somewhat unique feature of market investigations. This allows the CMA to impose remedies in markets where there is no evidence of wrongdoing. It is essentially the exercise of a Ministerial power delegated to the CMA, enabling the CMA to regulate parts of the economy without any Ministerial or Parliamentary involvement. Few other competition authorities enjoy such wide-ranging powers. The flipside of that coin is that the process involves a lengthy and rigorous review by independent Panel Members, only at the end of which remedies can be imposed – so-called “Market Investigation References”. The Panel Members are part-time and are independent of the CMA and its Board. It is that independence that is seen as an integral part of the system.

While the CMA has the ability to conduct Market Studies without a full market investigation (and thus without the involvement of independent Panel Members), it lacks the power to impose a binding remedy in such cases. If the CMA wishes to impose remedies, the only option is for the Board of the CMA to refer the matter to an independent Panel for a market investigation. Of course, the CMA already has other options available to it short of imposing remedies, such as seeking voluntary undertakings from market participants in lieu of a reference or making recommendations for others to take action (including other regulatory bodies or Government).

Download and read the full response here.

“CMA Policy: UK Competition Authority Asserts itself in Anticipation of Brexit” comments by Sarah Long

Sarah Long was asked to comment on The Capital Forum’s Vol. 7 No. 300 story published on 15 August 2019 entitled “CMA Policy: UK Competition Authority Asserts Itself in Anticipation of Brexit”.In anticipation of the UK’s imminent exit from the EU, the CMA has adopted an aggressive approach in a bid to secure a better outcome for UK consumers. […] The CMA “will now have an element of freedom to look at mergers in a different way,” said Sarah Long, a partner at Euclid Law in London, adding that the CMA could ultimately move away from the European Commission’s approach in some key respects.

To read the full article, click here.