On 24 January 2024, the Department for Business and Trade announced that fake reviews and unavoidable hidden or “dripped” charges will be added to the list of banned practices under consumer law in the UK.  The amendments are intended “to ensure customers can compare purchases with ease, aren’t duped by fake reviews, and have the sting of hidden fees taken away.”[1]

On 1 February 2024, the European Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) published a report on a 2023 stocktaking of direct financial services offered by BigTechs[1] in the EU (the Report).  

The Report highlights certain characteristics of BigTech firms, in particular various types of inter-dependencies between BigTechs’ non-financial and financial services offerings, and identifies opportunities and risks flowing from these inter-dependencies. It also records national competent authorities’ supervisory and regulatory observations as well as some initial suggestions how these could be addressed. Lastly, it states that, as a next step, the ESAs will establish a “multi-faceted data matrix” to enhance their monitoring of BigTech firms.

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 24 November 2023, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a Call for Input on the potential competition impacts arising from the data asymmetry between Big Tech firms and firms in financial services. The Call for Input follows the FCA’s October 2022 Discussion Paper regarding the potential competition impacts of Big Tech entry and expansion in retail financial services, and its July 2023 Feedback Statement summarising the responses to the Discussion Paper. [1]

On 12 July, 2023, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published a Feedback Statement summarising responses to its October 2022 Discussion Paper entitled “The potential competition impacts of Big Tech entry and expansion in retail financial services.”[1]

On 31 July 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) issued an infringement decision finding that Leicester City Football Club and JD Sports had colluded to restrict competition in the sales of Leicester City-branded clothing, including replica kit, in the UK.  Leicester City FC and its parent companies reached a settlement agreement with the CMA, under which they will pay a fine of £880,000.  JD Sports had reported the infringement to the CMA, in exchange for immunity from financial penalties.

On 10 July 2023, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) dismissed an appeal by Canadian software company Dye & Durham’s (D&D) against a decision of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to reject a proposed “dual-track” remedy.  The case arose out of the CMA’s investigation of D&D’s completed acquisition of TM Group (TMG), which resulted in the CMA requiring D&D to divest TMG to a suitable purchaser. 

Making markets work for consumers is a core mission for UK agencies with competition and consumer protection responsibilities.  This task assumes heightened importance in the context of current cost-of-living pressures.  In this post, we discuss recent regulatory interventions that have focused on these issues.

The UK introduced a new collective proceedings regime for competition damages claims in October 2015.[1]  The early years of the new regime were characterized by cautious uncertainty as the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) and the appellate courts grappled with identifying the standards for certification.[2]  It took almost six years before the CAT certified the first claim in Merricks in August 2021.[3]  The CAT subsequently certified 10 other claims in less than two years, which in turn, encouraged additional claims to be brought.

On 25 May 2023, the High Court ordered that an individual disqualified by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) may continue as the director of Cantillon, a construction company fined £1.92 million for its involvement in a bid-rigging cartel.[1]  The High Court’s Order—which was opposed by the CMA—is the fourth time since 2019 that the Court has granted an exemption from a director disqualification undertaking obtained by the CMA.