This is not the first occasion that London Registrars has reported on the formation of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK’s new principal consumer and competition body. Nonetheless, it is worth reminding the clients of business support agencies that this organisation gains its full powers in April 2014.
The existing competition and some of the consumer protection functions previously the responsibility of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission’s (CC) have been brought together under a new body, following an amendment by the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013. Although the CMA, a non-Ministerial government department, was established last October, as of 1 April, it has now assumed responsibility for cases, market studies and other work.
As outlined in London Registrars’ previous report and of interest to many UK clients of business support agencies, the CMA has been established with the aim of improving how markets work for consumers, businesses and the economy by promoting competition. Serving customers both within and outside the UK, the CMA’s many responsibilities include investigations into mergers that could have a detrimental effect on competition.
The CMA’s relevance to companies making use of business support agencies also extends to conducting market studies and investigations where there is reason to suspect competition and consumer issues, as well as investigating whether a company may have breached UK or EU prohibitions against the abuse of a dominant position or an anti-competitive agreement.
Another duty of the CMA from April 2014 is the tackling of market conditions and practices that make it difficult for consumers to exercise choice, via the enforcement of consumer protection legislation under Consumer Protection from the Unfair Trading Regulations 2008. The new body has also pledged to bring criminal proceedings against individuals committing the cartels offence under the Enterprise Act 2002 (EA02), and intends to work alongside sector regulators and encourage regulators’ use of their competition powers.
Finally, the clients of business support agencies will be intrigued to read of the body’s responsibility for the consideration of regulatory references and appeals, in addition to the carrying out of other competition roles that have now been transferred from the OFT and CC.