On 11 January 2024, the CMA published an overview of its “provisional approach to implement the new Digital Markets competition regime” (Overview), the new regulatory powers the CMA is set to take on once the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill (DMCC) passes through Parliament (see earlier posts here and here). The CMA published this Overview in response to the UK government’s request on 4 January that CMA publish a “high-level plan” for implementing the digital markets competition regime.[1]  

In a unanimous judgment, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales (CoA) reaffirmed the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) power to require overseas companies with no branches in the UK to produce documents and information when investigating suspected anticompetitive conduct.  The CoA considered that not allowing the CMA to obtain information from overseas companies would create a “gaping lacuna” in the CMA’s ability to perform its statutory duties. 

On 14 December 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published its first horizon scanning report examining ten trends in digital markets that the CMA expects will be relevant over the next five years and beyond.

The report aims to “draw on available evidence to discuss and present possible future developments and potential implications for competition and consumers”.[1]  The trends focus on areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), interoperability, and privacy.

On 16 November 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued a warning to Wowcher, calling on the e-commerce site to change its online sales practices and in particular its “urgency claims” that risk misleading consumers.  Wowcher has an opportunity to respond and offer undertakings to change its practices and avoid potential court action.

On 20 November 2023, the Digital Markets, Competition, and Consumers Bill (DMCC) cleared the report stage and an expedited third reading in the House of Commons, at which a series of significant amendments were passed. 

On 4 September, the Department for Business and Trade launched a consultation on proposals designed to improve the quality and accessibility of information for consumers making purchases. The background to the consultation is: (i) the government’s review of the Price Marking Order 2004 (PMO), which implemented the EU Price Indications Directive and therefore now can be amended following Brexit, (ii) the CMA’s report on grocery unit pricing,[1]  (iii) Government research into drip pricing and hidden fees,[2] and (iv) the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (DMCC) Bill, currently going through the legislative process in Parliament.

On 9 August 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published a joint position paper on online choice architecture (OCA), titled “Harmful design in digital markets: How Online Choice Architecture practices can undermine consumer choice and control over personal information”.  The paper forms part of the agencies’ work under the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum, which brings together multiple UK regulatory bodies to advance their combined thinking on regulatory issues in the digital economy.