The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 received Royal Assent on 25th April 2013. One of the main effects of the Act is the abolition of the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading and the establishment and provision for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which is due to be formally established on 1st October 2013.
In a speech to the Competition Commission and the OFT on 24th April 2013 Alex Chisholm, the CEO-designate of the new Competition and Markets Authority said “the decision to create a single authority was driven by the opportunity to create efficiencies, remove duplication and to ensure that the competition regime has the functions and powers needed to tackle competition problems and encourage compliance. A single authority will be able to deploy resources more effectively and flexibly across its work load…The Authority will be able to deliver decisions in a more timely way without reduction in quality”.
Alex Chisholm’s speech indicated that enforcement action will be one of the CMA’s priorities whether that be criminal prosecutions for consumer offences as well as criminal cartel offences; negotiated outcomes such as accepting undertakings or commitments or the issuing of warnings and guidance. He made it clear that as the enforcer of the law in this area the CMA will take a strong view of the harm done by cartels and other competition and consumer infringements.
It remains to be seen whether the move from the Competition Commission and the OFT to the Competition and Markets Authority will have a significant impact on the number or nature of prosecutions brought in this area and the extent to which the “culture of compliance” envisaged by their CEO will become a reality.
By Business Crime Solicitor Elizabeth Rigby.
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