The OFT and Competition Commission (CC) are making improvements to their processes for market investigations following work by a recently established joint working group, focussed on ensuring that the current UK market investigation regime: is responsive and timely, and minimises financial burdens; makes optimal use of resources and expertise; makes the best use of public money by being efficient and costeffective; provides consistency in policy and approach; and above all is strong, robust and independent, and continues to be a world leader in the competition and consumer field.
The current market investigation regime allows the OFT to refer a market to the CC for further investigation where it has concerns regarding one or more features of a market that may prevent, restrict or distort competition in the UK. Such references may be the outcome of a market study by the OFT. For example, the Groceries Market investigation, which is still ongoing at the CC, was originally referred to the CC by the OFT back in May 2006 following an OFT public consultation.
The OFT has agreed that, in market studies where a reference to the CC is one of the outcomes being considered, it will aim to consult on a reference within six months of launch (where this appears the most appropriate and proportionate outcome). In addition, the CC is looking to complete future market investigations in 18 months instead of the statutory maximum of 24 months, and less in the case of smaller markets.