A new Competition and Markets Authority: but no new dawn for the public competition law enforcement in the UK
By Stephen Hornsby
With a certain amount of trumpeting, the new Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) came into existence on 1 April — thus merging the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission. The CMA has the largest annual budget (£52m) of any competition law enforcement agency in Europe — so much will be expected of it. Unfortunately, any reform of competition law in the UK is painfully slow and piecemeal — as the decades it took for the anachronistic Restrictive Trade Practices Act to be replaced by the 1998 Competition Act illustrates. The reform that gave birth to the CMA is no exception to this English disease; it was a long time coming and it does not go far enough as we shall now see.
Public competition law enforcement through a regulatory body has three main goals that are not always harmonious. The first is to avoid ‘capture’ by those that the regulator oversees; the second is to enable the regulator to reach speedy decisions with effective remedies; and the third goal is to ensure that the regulator respects the rights of defence of those under investigation — this is particularly important where serious penalties can be imposed.
Most competition regulatory systems in Europe seek to attain these goals by having one body to enforce the rules across all industries — thus avoiding ‘capture’ by sectoral interests (usually powerful oligopolies in specific sectors such as energy, telecoms etc) with internal separation of functions within that body. Such internal separation seeks to achieve the third goal of respecting the rights of the defence (which can conflict with the need for speedy decisions). By ensuring that a fresh look is taken at positions taken initially by officials, it is hoped ‘confirmation bias’ (or the marking of one’s own homework) will be avoided…
Click on the link below to read the rest of the Goodman Derrick briefing.
Sign in or Register to continue reading this article
It's quick, easy and free!
It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.Register now
Why register to The Lawyer
In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.
Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.
Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.
More relevant to you
To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.
News from Goodman Derrick
Briefings from Goodman Derrick
The extent to which hirers have to provide the ‘same opportunity’ was the subject of the case Coles v Ministry of Defence.
Some pointers on dealing with payments of tips and gratuities in the restaurant industry from an employment law perspective.
Analysis from The Lawyer
Active financial management is vital, but with firms looking more closely at the process of debt and fee collection, the personal touch still counts
The lure of the law can kick in at any stage of life. We speak to four individuals who have made a radical switch to a legal career