04 October 2013
A new competition authority has been formed, called the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
Bringing together the Competition Commission (CC) and certain consumer functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), the idea is of promoting competition within as well as outside of the UK, according to the Government.
Initially the CMA will not be taking on any casework, which will remain with the CC and OFT until 2014. It will take on the role of a shadow body until spring next year when it can adequately assume its responsibilities.
The CMA’s overall ambition is to be consistently one of the leading competition and consumer agencies in the world. To achieve this it has proposed 5 goals: to deliver effective enforcement; to extend competition frontiers; to refocus consumer protection; to develop integrated performance; and achieve professional excellence.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has also published a Ministerial Statement of strategic priorities, which the new competition authority must take note of.
The government strategic steer asks the CMA to identify markets where competition is not working well and tackle the constraints on competition in these cases using the competition and consumer enforcement tools that it considers most appropriate. In doing so it should take account of consumer behaviour, be willing to consider potential competition concerns in business-to-business markets, and assess whether there are specific sectors where enhanced competition could contribute to faster growth.
It must also enforce antitrust rules robustly and fairly where they are breached; play a key role in challenging government where government is creating barriers to competition; and provide leadership and work with partner agencies to deliver positive competition outcomes.
According to the Government, this steer is a transparent statement of its aspirations, publicly setting out the long term goals of the government in relation to competition and growth. The CMA is not however bound by the steer.