‘Spineless’ Govt’s high street retreat

The Competition Commission has been looking at the ‘big four’ supermarkets and the UK food shopping market since May 2006, and on 15 February it published its latest provisional decision on remedies, which straddles such areas as planning law, land law and codes of practice.

The media and chattering classes continue to bemoan the death of the small high street grocer at the hands of Tesco et al. Meanwhile, some competition lawyers close to the case have now told The Lawyer that the commission may not be the ideal forum for biting into what has long clearly been a public policy concern.

The Enterprise Act 2002 has taken away one of the powers of the commission to base its decisions on the greater public interest.

One City competition partner branded the Government “spineless” in passing the issue on to the Competition Commission and not dealing with saving the high street itself, as the governments of several more “honest” EU member states such as Ireland and France have done.Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every day by subscribing to Lawyer News Daily.