Competition and Markets Authority publishes guidance on approach to new powers

The Competition and Markets Authority has today published guidance on its approach to using some key legal powers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has today published guidance on its approach to using some key legal powers, including tough new measures to impose financial penalties on firms that do not comply with competition investigations or with interim measures imposed in merger cases.

These new measures are among those introduced in the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act and will strengthen the UK’s competition regime. They will enable the CMA to impose financial penalties for failure to comply with investigatory requirements in mergers, markets, and Competition Act investigations.

The CMA, which takes on its full functions from April, will also have extended powers to impose restrictions on firms in merger cases to limit integration of their businesses before clearance. The CMA will be able to impose penalties of up to 5% of annual turnover on companies that fail to comply with these interim measures.

Today’s 7 guidance documents are intended to give businesses and advisers clarity over how the new organisation will go about its work, and also include measures to make it easier for businesses to engage with the CMA’s staff including its decision makers. They have been published following careful consideration of responses received during a consultation on draft guidance, which has led to a number of changes including:

• providing access for merging parties to decision makers in Phase 1 merger cases, where practicable (Mergers guidance)
• refining the merger notice, to clarify the limits on the amount of information parties have to provide when notifying the CMA of a proposed merger (Mergers guidance)
• a commitment to provide parties with clearer information on the purpose and scope of work carried out by the CMA under its general market review function, together with an indicative timetable (Market studies guidance)

The guidance documents published today are as follows:

• Mergers: guidance on the CMA’s jurisdiction and procedure
• Market studies and market investigations: supplemental guidance on the CMA’s approach
• Administrative penalties: statement of policy on the CMA’s approach
• Cost recovery in telecoms price control references: guidance on the CMA’s approach
• Transparency and disclosure: statement of the CMA’s policy and approach
• Remedies: guidance on the CMA’s approach to the variation and termination of merger, monopoly and market undertakings and orders
• Transitional arrangements: guidance on the CMA’s proposed approach– Part 1

A second suite of CMA guidance has been consulted on and will be published in March.

CMA Chief Executive, Alex Chisholm, said:

‘Strong competition is vital as the economy recovers and the CMA is gearing up for its role as the UK’s combined competition authority from April.

‘We want to minimise the burden on business, increase transparency and access to the CMA and ensure our documents provide clarity for firms. We’ve listened to the views of industry and others and have made a number of changes to our guidance. But alongside this, the documents make clear that we will use our new powers to impose financial penalties if necessary.

‘I would like to thank all those who have engaged and helped us develop these guidance documents, which themselves mark a major milestone in the transition to the new regime.’

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