Antitrust & Competition
– Getting to Grips with Fair Competition in the UK
In the UK and EU, there are a number of regulatory authorities whose job it is to make sure that businesses are operating within the laws of fair competition. The laws and regulations surrounding competition between businesses is a top priority for many corporations.
The importance of antitrust and competition regulations is great. Competition law surrounds the regulation of open competition between businesses with the intent of fostering strong and stable competition to deliver consumers the best possible products, services, and prices, without agreements being made to control competition.
The regulations in the UK and those in the EU, are very closely connected, raising brand new problems as Brexit draws closer. As the UK begins its separation from the EU, the connection between the domestically focused UK regulations and the authorities in the EU will change with the loss of integrated policies, presenting a new outlook on competition regulation for businesses operating in the UK.
As regulatory bodies have begun to crack down on cartels, it is incredibly important to know where your business stands with the role of competition law in everyday practices and when applicable in mergers and acquisitions.
The Law Surrounding Corporate Competition
Fair competition in the UK is governed by two main laws: the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Competition Act 1998. Both laws are very different, with the Enterprise Act 2002 making it an offence to be involved in cartel activity, and the Competition Act 1998 making it an offence to enter into an anti-competitive agreement.
Under the Competition Act 1998, businesses are not legally allowed to:
- Reach an agreement whereby a mutual decision to set a fixed price for services or products or fix the terms of trade is established.
- Make contract agreements with competitors whereby it is decided in advance which business will take one contract and which business will take another contract.
- Reach an agreement whereby production is limited so that the competition is reduced.
The law is extensive for corporate competition, covering any instance whereby the ability to have open and fair competition is restricted in any way. These regulations apply to large businesses and small businesses alike, affecting all types of industry.
Why Is Fair Competition So Important Between Businesses?
The importance of fair competition affects both businesses and consumers and affects many areas of businesses practices. Fair competition is essential for economic growth in the UK, and offers a substantial number of benefits, including:
- Increasing the speed of innovation and technological development
- Reducing the prices of services and products for consumers
- Bringing a wider range of products to the market
- Improving service quality
- Providing extensive information for consumers to base decisions on
How Is Competition Law Enforced?
The primary UK regulatory body for antitrust and competition law is the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which was established as the main force for regulation enforcement on the 1st of April 2014. This body works alongside other regulatory bodies to deliver two main purposes: cracking down on anti-competitive practices and boosting the competition between businesses. In the EU, the public body for enforcement is the European Commission (EU).
Both bodies have the power to investigate, and in many instances, this investigatory power is incredibly extensive. Civil and criminal investigations can be undertaken by both bodies, raids can be performed, and large fines are often given as penalties for activities deemed anti-competitive.
How Might Your Business Need Help with Competition and Antitrust Law?
The extensive coverage of competition law means that it can affect many of a business’s every day practices, and a vast range of activities. Your business may need legal advice about:
- Competition complaints and investigations
- The control of mergers and third part advice provision
- Employee training, audits, and compliance
- Licensing and franchising competition problems
- Alliances and joint ventures
- The litigation surrounding competition law
- Industry dominance abuse
- Agreements for anti-competitive practices
- Cartel enforcement and agreements
- State aid
- Acquisition investigations, litigation , or competition for prospective acquisitions
If your business needs legal advice on antitrust and competition law, then the London lawyers at Gulbenkian Andonian are on hand to help. Our expert solicitors in London can assist in any