Lord David Currie, the Chair Designate of the nascent Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), has outlined his vision of a vibrant, fresh and dynamic regulatory body that streamlines and builds upon the best practices of the UK’s existing competition regulators.

The CMA will replace and amalgamate the competition and markets functions of the current, separate competition authorities – the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission – and is expected to assume its new powers in April 2014.

In his speech, delivered at the Law Society’s Competition Section Annual Dinner, on 28 November 2012, Lord Currie said:

“There is a great deal to be managed over the next year or so before the new Authority assumes its powers in April 2014…

“We need to make sure that the Competition and Markets Authority is established as a vibrant organisation with a fresh, dynamic culture that embodies both new elements and the best of the two legacy bodies and retains and integrates the talent of their staff…

“The combined organisation … will provide a single, and therefore stronger, voice and advocacy, both at home and internationally, on competition and consumer issues.”

Lord Currie also explained how the CMA will achieve the Government’s objectives for reform of the competition and consumer landscape, including:

  • deploying resources more effectively and flexibly to its work and decisions (including Phase 1 and Phase 2 merger and markets investigations) and adhering to tighter timetables;
  • using new powers to make antitrust investigations more efficient and fair; and
  • tackling hardcore cartels more effectively through the proposed removal of the dishonesty requirement under the criminal cartel offence.

Lord Currie gave assurances that ongoing cases would be delivered consistently, effectively and without interruption throughout the transition period.

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which will set up the CMA and implement the changes to UK competition law (discussed here), is currently being debated in Parliament, with the House of Lords Committee stage having commenced on 3 December.

Lord Currie also explained that the CMA will play a larger role in the enforcement of consumer law, working closely with other national organisations such as Trading Standards and Citizens Advice. The CMA will also work in partnership with and provide leadership to the sector regulators, such as Ofcom and Ofgem