This book is a concise and readable tour of recent changes to procedures governing UK competition enforcement. It is likely to be useful to both students and practitioners. Each chapter is written by leading practitioners, each of whom brings an individual style to the text. The structure and index are well-thought-through and easy to navigate.
The book is introduced by a useful discussion of the interplay of politics and competition policy: ‘Ultimately, there will always be pressure for government to intervene in certain high-profile sectors on political grounds. However, the costs of such politically motivated intervention in terms of business confidence in the regulatory process and the rule of law are substantial.’
The next four chapters review the creation of the Competition and Markets Authority, its enhanced investigatory and enforcement powers, and reforms to the merger and market investigation regimes. These chapters include careful examination of the potential risks of creating a unitary competition authority: ‘There remains an apparent tension between the government’s stated aims of increasing efficiency and retaining or enhancing the high reputation of the UK system for independence and rigour.’
Particularly worth reading is the chapter on the removal of ‘dishonesty’ from the cartel offence, in which the authors query what mental element now justifies a potential five-year prison sentence and/or an unlimited fine.
Authors: Ros Kellaway, Rhodri Thompson QC, Christopher Brown
I also enjoyed the spirited analysis of the new ‘opt-in’ regime for class actions: ‘The objective of the government was apparently to strike the right balance between encouraging collective actions and preventing unmeritorious litigation or “US-style” class litigation.’
The discussion of the EU Directive on Damages would have benefited from some further thoughts about what these changes may mean in practice. Of course, the next edition should have some concrete examples, and we can look forward to it.
Pat Treacy is a partner at Bristows