Private actions in competition law – a consultation on options for reform

The UK Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced a new consultation on reforms to empower consumers and businesses to challenge anti-competitive behaviour.

A strong competition regime is fundamental to growth in the UK economy, encouraging investment and innovation amongst businesses and ensuring that consumers get the best deal possible. Reforms to the public competition framework that will help businesses, consumers and the economy were announced on 15 March 2012. The proposals in this consultation are intended to complement these reforms with a stronger private actions system.

The proposals on private actions have two aims:

  • Increase growth, by empowering small businesses to tackle anti-competitive behaviour that is stifling their business.
  • Promote fairness, by enabling consumers and businesses who have suffered loss due to anti-competitive behaviour to obtain redress.

The core reforms considered in this consultation are:

  • Allowing the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) to hear more kinds of competition cases and granting it additional powers to allow SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to quickly and cheaply challenge behaviour that is restricting their ability to grow.
  • Introducing an opt-out collective actions regime for competition law, which would enable consumers and businesses to collectively bring a case to obtain redress for shared losses.
  • Promoting Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to ensure that the courts are the option of last resort.
  • Ensuring private actions complement the public enforcement regime, in particular by protecting the incentives provided for companies to whistle-blow on cartels.

Open date: 24 Apr 2012

Closing date: 24 Jul 2012

Further information (External Website)

 

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