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Significant Changes to UK Competition Regime Now Effective

by Andrea Hamilton, David Henry, Aiste Slezeviciute

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 took effect on 1 April 2014. Increased efficiencies and deterrence are the main drivers of this reform.

As of 1 April 2014, the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 (ERRA) brings about significant substantive and structural change to the United Kingdom’s competition regime. As part of a more general overhaul of this regime, the recently created Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) becomes fully operational, a revised criminal cartel offence enters into force, and the merger control regime becomes more robust. These changes bring in their wake a swathe of new investigatory and enforcement powers and penalties for failure to comply. Businesses are therefore urged to take note of these new changes and to be alert to compliance risk. This On the Subject summarizes some of the key aspects of the reforms.

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UK Competition Regulator Issues Guidance on How Businesses Can Comply With Competition Laws

by Andrea L. Hamilton and David Henry

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has issued an overview of competition law and steps that companies can take to comply with competition law.  This advice was issued in response to the results of a survey carried out on behalf of the OFT, in which a sizable minority of the 2,000 businesses questioned claimed that they have not taken action to ensure compliance with competition law.  The OFT’s advice includes a four-step plan to achieving competition law compliance, and is accompanied by a short film depicting a dawn raid.

Highlights of the OFT’s written advice include the following:

  • Members of the Board and senior management should take responsibility for ensuring that firms do not operate anti-competitive practices
  • Managers should monitor work processes, including how employees interact with competitors, if they have access to rivals’ price or business plans, and whether the company has agreements with competitors that could allow unlawful practices to develop
  • Managers should also introduce new policies, ways of working and training to reduce the chance of unlawful anti-competitive activity occurring
  • Businesses should review their processes for identifying and counteracting anti-competitive risks.

This guidance underscores the importance that companies operating in Europe establish effective competition compliance programmes. 

The OFT’s "Quick Guide to Competition Law Compliance" is available here.

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