The Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) continues to focus on promoting compliance with competition law.
Its recent efforts include the following:
- an open letter to private medical practitioners, with accompanying guidance documents, warning that certain agreements between competing consultants can break the law (following the CMA’s decision to fine an association of consultant eye surgeons £382,500);
- the creation of an e-learning module, together with the Crown Commercial Services, which will help central government procurers to identify attempts to win contracts through anti-competitive conduct such as bid-rigging;
- reminding local authorities that high strength alcohol schemes, or their implementation, may have the potential to breach competition law;
- asking law firms in a number of regions in the UK (to date the West Midlands, the East Midlands and the North West) to assist the CMA in promoting awareness of new competition law compliance materials by sharing them with their SME clients;
- an open letter to local transport authorities explaining the CMA’s process for considering the appropriate balance between competition in local bus markets and partnership working between bus operators and local transport authorities; and
- a recent blog post by Judith Frame and a speech by CMA Chief Executive Alex Chisholm highlighting the benefits of competition law for protecting start-ups and drawing attention to the CMA’s competition law guidance materials for small businesses.
These efforts form part of the CMA's overarching objective to promote compliance with competition law. In the CMA's annual plan 2016/17, the CMA observes that most businesses wish to comply with competition law and the CMA considers it to be important to help them do so. As one of its key commitments and initiatives in 2016/17, the CMA intends to “make appropriate use of advisory and warning letters in the case of suspected breaches of competition law, encouraging compliance without the need for a full formal investigation, and reinforcing this by publicising the broad facts where appropriate.” As such, alongside enforcement, the CMA intends to continue to use communication tools with the objective of increasing awareness of the law and its implications, changing business practices, minimising the burden of compliance and encouraging complaints. It also intends to target particular sectors in which it considers compliance with competition law to be unsatisfactory.
If you feel your business could benefit from further training in competition law or a better understanding of specific risks and opportunities then please do get in touch with our competition team.