The Chairman of the CMA, the Rt Hon Lord Tyrie, has unveiled a major package of proposals to reform the UK competition regime by putting consumers even more directly at the heart of the CMA’s work.
The reforms, set out at an event attended by the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, follow a request from Greg Clark last summer for Andrew Tyrie to review the system.
In August 2018, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy asked Lord Tyrie, Chairman of the CMA, to make proposals on legislative and institutional reforms to safeguard the interests of consumers and to maintain and improve public confidence in markets1. These proposals were sent to the Secretary of State on 21 February 2019 and have been published in full today.
The twin challenges posed by the growth of the digital economy, and declining public confidence in market competition, require reforms to competition and consumer protection law and policy.
The proposals create new duties and responsibilities on the CMA to enable it better to respond to these challenges. This includes an overriding statutory duty to treat the interests of consumers as paramount. The new duties would be backed by strengthened tools and powers to facilitate earlier and more robust intervention to address consumer detriment, and to deter wrongdoing.
It is also proposed that the CMA relinquish certain powers and functions, or its lead responsibility for them, including the review of certain decisions by economic regulators, and the prosecution of criminal cartels, enabling it to focus more effectively on its core responsibilities.
Changes are recommended to merger control to help the CMA work effectively with international counterparts after Brexit.
Consequential and supporting changes are proposed to the process of review of CMA decisions by the courts.