UK Becomes Fourth Jurisdiction to Introduce Dedicated Digital Platform Regulation, with More Jurisdictions Likely to Follow

On 23 May, the UK Parliament passed the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill.  The new DMCC Act will bring about some of the most significant reforms to competition and consumer protection law in the UK in decades. Among other major reforms, it introduces a dedicated regime that provides for specific conduct rules for large digital platforms. The UK therefore becomes the fourth jurisdictionafter the EU with its Digital Market Act (DMA), Germany with its s.19A rules, and Japan with its new smartphone bill (also passed on 23 May)to introduce rules that target a handful of the largest digital firms.[1]

On 21 May 2024, the UK Government published updated guidance on the application of the National Security and Investment Act (NSIA).  This includes:

On April 3, 2024, the European Commission (“Commission”) launched two in-depth investigations into tenders by Chinese solar photovoltaic suppliers under the EU Foreign Subsidies Regulation (“FSR”).[1]  The investigations relate to a public procurement procedure launched on September 27, 2023 by a Romanian contracting authority (Societatea Parc Fotovoltaic Rovinari Est S.A.) for the design, construction, and operation of a photovoltaic park with an installed capacity of 454.97 MW.[2]

On April 18, 2024, the Court of Justice delivered its judgement on the questions referred to it by the Prague Municipal Court in the Heureka v. Google case.[1]  Heureka Group (“Heureka”), a Czech comparison shopping service company (“CSS”) brought an action before the Municipal Court of Prague in the Czech Republic, seeking compensation from Google for the harm it allegedly suffered as a result of Google’s abusive behavior as part of the Google Shopping decision.  The referring court sought clarification about whether Article 10 of Directive 2014/104 (the “Damages Directive”) [2] and/or Article 102 TFEU[3] preclude the effects of a national law that requires parties seeking compensation for competition infringements to file suit within three years of the occurrence of the harm.  The Court of Justice ruled that Article 102 TFEU and the principle of effectiveness require the suspension of limitation periods during the Commission’s investigation.  The limitation period will only start running when the injured party knows the information necessary to bring its claim, which is presumed to be as of the date of the publication of the summary of the Commission’s infringement decision in the Official Journal of the EU.  Additionally, the injured party, Heureka in this instance, can then rely on the findings of a  Commission decision under appeal, as it is binding in nature, unless and until it has been annulled.  

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) declared victory as the High Court confirmed the standard of evidence needed to secure warrants to search domestic premises.  The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) had refused to grant a domestic search warrant to the CMA in connection with a cartel investigation.  It held in a judgment of October 2023 (the CAT Judgment) that a “higher order of scrutiny” [1] was required for domestic warrants than for business premises warrants, in order to protect individuals’ rights to a private and family life under Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has adopted a revised phase 2 investigation process and published updated Guidance on the CMA’s Jurisdiction and Procedure and Exceptions to the Duty to Refer.  The changes come after a period of extensive consultation and stakeholder engagement.  The new rules will apply to all investigations formally opened on or after 25 April 2024 that are subsequently referred to phase 2.

On 11 April 2024, the CMA published an update paper (the Update Paper) in relation to its initial review of AI Foundation Models (FMs).  An accompanying technical update report (the Technical Update Report) was published on 16 April 2024, providing further detail on market developments and feedback from stakeholder engagement.  These updates follow the CMA’s September 2023 initial report into the same topic (the Initial Report).