On 15 March 2012, following extensive consultation, the UK Business Minister announced a new single Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will simplify and strengthen the competition landscape in the UK.
The new independent body will bring together the Competition Commission and the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading. The move is designed to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the competition regime by streamlining procedures, increasing the deterrent effect of the regime and making it less burdensome on business. This will be achieved by reforming competition law and strengthening enforcement processes. It is currently expected that the authority will be fully operating by April 2014.
The CMA's primary duty will be to promote effective competition in markets, across the UK economy and for the benefit of consumers. This includes responsibility for merger regulation, market investigations, cartel and antitrust cases, as well as a number of functions with respect to the regulated utilities.
The Government will legislate for the establishment of a CMA Board responsible for overall governance, strategy and performance. The board will be required to publish rules and guidance describing its procedures and decision-making, to ensure clear roles, openness and transparency.