Competition Policy and Scottish Independence

July 1, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) On 18 September 2014 Scottish residents will be asked whether Scotland should be an independent country. A discussion was held at the recent Antitrust Enforcement Symposium (held by the University of Oxford’s Centre for Competition Law and Policy) regarding competition policy in an independent Scotland. This blog piece focuses on the impact independence would have on competition enforcement in Britain. Read the rest of this entry »


The Meaning of ‘Relevant Customer Benefits’ in the Context of Health Care: Monitor’s Advice and the Competition Commission’s Response

October 28, 2013

(by Mary Guy)[1] On 17 October, the Competition Commission (CC) blocked the proposed merger between Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (hereafter “the Dorset FT merger”), the first to be assessed under the regime for Foundation Trusts (FTs) established by the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA 2012). This new regime sees Monitor providing advice regarding “relevant customer benefits” to the OFT, which – along with the CC – has exclusive competence to determine mergers between NHS FTs. The case suggests that a higher standard of ‘relevant customer benefits’ is applied in the context of mergers in health care. Read the rest of this entry »


Cameron’s Plans for Energy Combine the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

October 24, 2013

(by Catherine Waddams) Yesterday the Prime Minister announced two new measures as a response to the latest increases in energy prices. He promised an annual review of competition in the market and to “roll back some of the green regulations and charges that are pushing up bills”. While an enquiry by competition authorities should be welcomed, the proposed measures also raise some serious concerns. Read the rest of this entry »


Labour’s proposal to abolish Ofgem: if you don’t like the answer, change the regulator?

September 25, 2013

(by Chris Hanretty) At its party conference this week the Labour party offered starkly differing views on the value of independent authorities. On Monday, Ed Balls called for the (independent) Office of Budgetary Responsibility to audit the costings of measures in Labour’s election manifesto. On Tuesday, Ed Miliband called for (independent) energy market regulator Ofgem to be abolished and replaced by a new energy regulator with power to set retail prices.

It’s not hard to see some tension between these two proposals. Suppose that in 2018 the OBR were to issue a negative verdict on the economic plans of a future Labour government. Would we see calls to abolish the OBR and replace it with another authority capable of adopting a broader view? That’s unlikely: the whole value of the OBR depends on it operating without regard to interference like this. Read the rest of this entry »


Price Regulation is Not the Solution to Unaffordable Energy Prices

September 25, 2013

(by Catherine Waddams)  At the Labour party conference, Ed Miliband said he would freeze energy prices until 2017.  Miliband’s frozen energy prices might lead to frozen homes as well.  Interventions in energy markets do not have a happy history, either in California or the UK, and those who remember the public sector price freezes of the Wilson and Heath governments in the nineteen sixties and seventies may also recall the subsequent underinvestment, poor quality and shortages. Privatisation and independent regulation were seen as a solution to those problems, but energy markets in particular have proved very controversial. This isn’t the first political intervention. Read the rest of this entry »


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