The Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers (DMCC) Act, which passed on 23 May 2024, will introduce significant reforms to UK competition and consumer protection law and digital regulation (see our update summarising the main changes). In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Act’s overhaul of the UK consumer protection regime.

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:

U.S. based snacks company, Mondelēz, has been found to have engaged in 22 anti-competitive agreements or concerted practices by the Commission. The Commission also found that Mondelēz abused its dominant position in the market for the sale of certain types of chocolate bars in several countries.  After a three-year investigation during which Mondelez followed the cooperation process, they have agreed to settle the investigation, with the Commission announcing a €337.5 million fine for hindering cross-border trade of chocolates, biscuits, and coffee products between Member States, in violation of EU competition rules.

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.