Towards the end of last year, we examined the proposals suggested in the government consultation into the Land Agreements Exclusion Order, in "A ship without a safe harbour - competition law and the property sector ".
The Order has provided a safe haven for many common land transactions since the introduction of the Competition Act 1998 but its future was in doubt following OFT and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) calls for its repeal.
Following a consultation period, the DBIS has published the Government's response to its consultation in which they decide that the Order will be repealed with effect from 6 April 2011. From that date, companies will have to self-assess land agreements for compatibility with competition law in the same way that they must assess other types of agreement. It is hoped that this will eliminate a perceived inconsistency in UK Competition application, but there may be unease that the repeal might lead to increased complaints or queries to the OFT, as well as increased business uncertainty, as many new participants get to grips with the Competition regime. In practice, the OFT is likely to proceed in a manner that reflects the repealed order and its 2004 guidance (OFT 420: Land agreements).