BIS Response on UK Competition Regime

March 19, 2012

In March 2011, the U.K. Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (“BIS”) issued a consultation entitled “A competition regime for growth,” which identified possible reforms of the U.K. competition regime to improve the robustness of decisions, ensure better focus on “high impact” cases, and improve the speed and predictability of investigations. The issuance of this consultation generated a great deal of interest from the business, legal, and academic communities and BIS received 115 submissions from a wide range of contributors. On March 15, 2012, BIS issued a response outlining the decisions that the Government intends to progress.

This Alert Memorandum describes the principal decisions contained in the Response and sets out some thoughts on their potential implications. Section I below addresses the decision to merge the competition functions of the Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission into a single competition authority, the Competition and Markets Authority and Sections II, III, IV, and V detail respectively the reforms proposed to the Criminal Cartel Regime, Mergers Regime, Antitrust Regime, and Markets Regime. Likely next steps are discussed in Section VI.