Do Plans for a European Super League Breach Competition Law?

April 20, 2021

(by Andreas Stephan) The world of European football was thrown into controversy this week by the announcement that 12 leading clubs have agreed to join a new European Super League (ESL). Unlike the Champions League, the ESL will consist of a permanent membership, with only 5 of its 20 slots open to qualification from other teams. The move has widely been condemned by sports fans and political leaders, and UEFA have said, ‘We will consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening. Football is based on open competitions and sporting merit it cannot be any other way.’ This blog takes a brief look at the possible competition law implications of the Super League.

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Merricks judgement marks a turning point for UK opt-out collective actions

January 20, 2021

(by Sebastian Peyer) In December 2020 the UK Supreme Court handed down its long-awaited decision in Merricks v MasterCard.[1] This is the first decision of the UK’s highest court on the relatively new opt-out collective action procedure introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The Court did not disappoint in confirming the claimant-friendly approach to class actions taken by the Court of Appeal. The latter had previously overturned the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s (CAT) decision refusing certification of the class. This decision is likely to mark a turning point for the collective action process in the UK. It will hopefully encourage more opt-out claims and overcome the disappointing track record of zero claims that have received certification so far.

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An indirect cost of record public debt: crowding out market competition?

October 27, 2020

[by Peter Ormosi] When Rishi Sunak announced the fourth Covid related support package in October 2020, UK government debt had already been at the unprecedented level of £2 trillion, exceeding 100% of the country’s GDP for the first time since the 1960s. But whereas the main worry on Sunak’s mind right now must be the likely interest rates on the national debt, the related risks, and to keep finances flowing, one should not dismiss the importance of how high government debt is likely to affect the real economy. This short blog considers some little-discussed side-effects that could have a long-term impact on competition. Read the rest of this entry »


Should competition law be suspended to help deal with the COVID-19 crisis?

March 27, 2020

(By Peter Ormosi and Andreas Stephan) When the escalation in Covid-19 sparked panic buying and shortages of key products, UK supermarkets asked the government to consider suspending competition law, to allow them to co-ordinate supplies and reduce shortages. On 25 March 2020, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published a document stating that,

Throughout the UK, business are… providing essential goods and services to consumers, to ensure key workers can carry out their important tasks and in getting the country through this crisis. The CMA understands that this may involve coordination between competing businesses. It wants to provide reassurance that, provided that any such coordination is undertaken solely to address concerns arising from the current crisis and does not go further or last longer than is necessary, the CMA will not take action against it. (paras 1.4 and 1.5)

This blog piece examines the consequences of providing this reassurance and asks whether it is a good idea. Read the rest of this entry »


Is Furman right to propose ex ante platform regulation as the best way to address competition concerns in the digital economy?

April 24, 2019

(by Elias Deutscher) Last month, the Digital Competition Expert Panel, chaired by Professor Jason Furman, published its report ‘Unlocking digital competition’ (the ‘Furman report’). The report had been jointly commissioned by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Business Secretary due to concerns about prevailing high levels in industry concentration, the accumulation of data in the hands of a handful of players and the rise of a few vertically integrated super-platforms. The same concerns have fuelled a European-wide policy debate about the challenges of competition law enforcement in the digital economy (e.g. by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and the European Commission).

The Furman report singles out the strategic importance of data and the gatekeeper function of intermediary platforms as central features of digital competition and the most important challenges for competition policy. These features make digital markets more prone to tipping in favour of a few powerful incumbents. Amongst other recommendations, the report proposes to address these concerns through the creation of a specific ex ante regulatory regime for digital platforms. While it outlines some of the basic features of the proposed new regulation, the report omits to clearly set out the underlying rationale and implications of such a regime. It also gives little guidance on its exact scope and implementation. Most importantly, it remains unclear whether the proposed framework will apply only to large, dominant firms, or also to smaller, non-dominant platforms. Read the rest of this entry »