Introduction

The draft Guidance published in July will provide essential guidance to international companies about how to deal with the new UK super regulator.

The UK’s new prospective competition authority, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), published in July its first set of draft guidance documents for consultation, along with ‘Towards the CMA’ a document setting out the background to the consultation. The aim of the guidance is to will give stakeholders the best possible understanding of how the CMA will exercise its powers and interact with them. Responses from interested parties are invited by 6th September 2013.

The documents are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/competition-and-markets-authority-guidance-part-1 .

Background

On 1 April 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERR Act 2013) will transfer the functions of the Competition Commission (CC) and many of the functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to the prospective new UK competition authority called the CMA. The CMA will possess a number of wide ranging statutory powers to address competition and consumer problems.

Legislative Changes

The ERR Act 2013 also introduces a number of enhancements to the CMA’s statutory powers to improve the robustness of decision-making, increase the speed and consistency of the CMA’s activities, and strengthen the UK’s competition regime as a whole.

The OFT and the CC have previously published guidance on their policies and procedures. These need to be amended to reflect the changes implemented by the ERR Act 2013. At this stage the CMA only intends to change those aspects of the OFT and CC guidance that requires amendment while adopting the existing OFT and CC guidelines. Therefore the CMA Guidance documents need to be read alongside other underlying OFT and CC guidance documents. The CMA hopes in this way to give stakeholders the best possible understanding of how the CMA will exercise its powers and interact with them.

After April 2014, the CMA will undertake an exercise to review all OFT and CC guidance to see whether there should be further amendments and/or whether certain guidance should be revoked. There will be a separate consultation on this process.

The first tranche of draft CMA guidance documents published in July cover the CMA’s powers and approach in relation to merger control, market investigations, administrative penalties and transparency.

There will be a second consultation in September, which will include guidance on cartel enforcement, consumer protection, Competition Act investigations, review of existing remedies, and the CMA’s work with concurrent regulators.