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On the prowl

On the prowl

There’s a new beast on the prowl in the UK legal jungle. Though still lurking in the shadows, it is due to emerge from the trees into the open sunlight come springtime. And it’s a big one.

Its name – the Competition and Markets Authority – isn’t exactly thrilling.  Nor is its status as a “non-ministerial department of the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills”.  But it is set to be the new Lion King of UK competition law, and as such will need to be approached with caution.  Even if only half of the verbiage about mission and vision that attended its so-called “shadow launch” in October 2013 is to be taken seriously, it looks likely to inject new vim and vigor into UK competition law – a long overdue step, in the view of many.  And there’ll be blood on the jungle floor, for the Competition Commission is to be gutted; the Office of Fair Trading, whose record in prosecuting competition law offences has been dismal, is to be largely emasculated; and, though sectoral regulators like OFCOM are to remain, the Competition and Markets Authority will be top dog.

In summary, this looks like much more than a mere quangocratic reshuffle.  Whether one loves or hates competition law (we love it), the initials “CMA” are going to become very familiar in the months and years ahead.  And the net effect, we predict, will be to raise the temperature of competition law in this country.  So, for those businesses who still haven’t got around to complying with it, there’s no time to lose.

After all, it’s a jungle out there.

By Jonathan Cornthwaite

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