As part of a raft of proposals to overhaul the current competition and consumer law regimes, the UK Government has set out for consultation a number of wide-ranging proposals concerning competition law enforcement in the UK. Competition Act enforcement is the focus of this briefing.
We discuss the mergers and markets, and consumer law, proposals separately (view our briefings on UK merger control and markets reform and consumer law reform) . The UK Government is simultaneously consulting on specific proposals to govern the digital technology sphere (view our briefing here).
The Government concedes that the evidence on the Competition and Market Authority's (CMA's) current performance in Competition Act cases is mixed. Post-Brexit, the CMA will increasingly find itself faced with more challenging investigations relating to both the Chapter I and Chapter II prohibitions and the Government considers it important that the CMA can conduct large and complex investigations more efficiently.
On the Government's figures, since the CMA's creation in April 2014, the average case time for civil Competition Act investigations fell from 31.1 months to 22.7 months. The CMA also opened and concluded a larger volume of cases than the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) did in the years leading up to 2014. However, the timeframes for Competition Act investigations remain long, with one third of the investigations taking over three years.