On 1 April 2014, significant reforms to the UK competition law regime came into effect.
Most significantly, the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission are replaced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). However, there are also a number of other procedural and substantive law changes, including:
- While the existing scheme of voluntary notification of mergers is retained, a form for mergers notifications has been introduced with a new 40-day time limit for Phase 1 reviews, and the CMA has a new power to impose interim ‘hold-separate’ orders in merger reviews
- A new compulsory interview power, and an ability for the CMA to impose a fine if an individual refuses to answer questions
- A new power to impose civil penalties on companies and persons who fail to cooperate with an investigation (whether in an antitrust case, merger review, market study or market investigation)
- The formalisation of the process for settling antitrust investigations, under which a company may admit to having infringed competition law in return for a reduction in penalty
- A new “criminal cartel” definition taking effect, removing the existing “dishonesty” element