Following a consultation (which we reported on in our July edition), the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it will act as the single port of call for initial leniency enquiries and applications in the regulated sectors in the UK. It has also published an information note providing guidance on the arrangements for handling these enquiries and applications.1
Certain sectoral regulators2 have concurrent powers to enforce competition law in their respective markets alongside the CMA, including the power to impose financial penalties for competition law infringements. CMA Guidance provides for immunity from, or a reduction in, penalties for cartel participants that come forward with information on illegal activity and satisfy certain conditions.3 The informal arrangements that were previously in place gave applicants for such leniency the option of either applying to the CMA or to their sectoral regulator under a ‘single queue system’.
Under the new arrangements, “all businesses should in the first instance approach the CMA by calling the CMA’s leniency number in order to secure their place in the leniency queue”. In the event that a leniency enquiry/application is made to a sectoral regulator, the regulator will immediately direct the enquirer/applicant to the CMA. The ultimate decision to grant leniency will be made by the authority to which the case has been allocated (in accordance with the Concurrency Regulations). The new approach is designed to streamline the process and provide certainty and consistency for businesses.