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 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]  

More than one and half year after the amendments to China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (the “AML”) came into effect, the State Council of China approved on December 29, 2023 and published on January 26, 2024 revisions[1] to China’s merger control notification thresholds (the “State Council Order”).[2]

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On December 15, 2023, the French Competition Authority (“FCA”) published its Revised Leniency Guidelines, which repealed and replaced the 2015 guidelines.[1]  The Revised Leniency Guidelines were adopted as part of the implementation of the “DDADUE” law,[2] the ECN+ directive,[3] and the “Damages” directive.[4]  They aim to provide greater legal certainty for leniency applicants and modernize the leniency application procedure.

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 November 8, 2023, the Japan Fair Trade Commission (“JFTC”) held the G7 Joint Competition Enforcers and Policy Makers Summit (the “Summit”) in Tokyo.  The focus of the Summit was for the G7 competition authorities and policymakers (the “Authorities”) to discuss effective approaches to enforcing and promoting competition in digital markets.  At the Summit, the Authorities adopted the “Digital Competition Communiqué[1] (the “Communiqué”) and updated the “Compendium of approaches to improving competition in digital markets”[2] (the “Compendium”). 

On October 26, 2023, the European Court of Justice issued a preliminary ruling in EDP – Energias de Portugal and Others,[1] upon request from the Lisbon Court of Appeals, which had asked for clarification on how to assess non-compete clauses under Article 101(1) and (3) TFEU and whether these could constitute “by object” restrictions.  The Court of Justice clarified the standard of assessment of such non-compete clauses, confirming that they can be categorized as restrictions by object if they display a sufficient degree of harm to competition.