In 2006 a new House of Lords Select Committee was set up to consider the impact of regulators on competition within their industry. Following the Committee's call for evidence in its investigation (reported in our January e-bulletin), the OFT responded and its evidence has now been published. The OFT's evidence sets out its own powers, as well as those of other sectoral regulators and the interaction between them.
The OFT's activities are set out in relation to its work in the fields of competition enforcement, mergers and market investigation powers. The work of the OFT in competition enforcement alone is estimated to have saved consumers approximately £750 million between 2000 – 2005. Compared with costs of £98 million this represents a real saving to consumers.
In the second section, the OFT considers those regulators with concurrent powers to apply the Competition Act 1998 ('CA '98') and notes the work of the Concurrency Working Party in handling the co-ordination of those concurrent powers. In addition, the OFT recommended that:
- members of the Concurrency Working Party alert each other when they send statements of objections or send summaries of competition concerns in commitments cases;
- all regulators publish the assessment criteria they employ when deciding whether to use competition enforcement or regulatory powers; and
- the government should consider addressing anomalies in the scope of concurrent powers and in process.
Although the OFT's evidence is available now, the Lords Committee is not due to submit a report until November 2007.