I’m a dissatisfied customer in a fairly unusual market …the market for opinion polls

May 12, 2015

(by Chris Hanretty) I’m more an end-user rather than a customer: I don’t buy opinion polls, but rely on a number of polling companies to publish their results which are (typically) commissioned by national newspapers or other media outlets.

This market has recently suffered a clamorous and highly visible failure. Most polls before the 2015 UK general election suggested that approximately equal proportions of people intended to vote for the Conservative and Labour parties respectively. In the end, the Conservatives finished six and a half percentage points ahead.

Given the size of this failure — and CCP’s obvious interest in competition and troubled markets — it’s reasonable to ask whether the polling industry’s failure is evidence of a broader failure in the market for public opinion research. Read the rest of this entry »


What could repeal of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 mean for the application of competition law and the English NHS?

May 5, 2015

(By Mary Guy) In view of the significant opposition to the competition provisions of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (HSCA 2012), it is unsurprising that several parties are explicitly proposing repeal in their 2015 UK election manifestos. Repeal of the HSCA 2012 appears to offer a neat shorthand for dis-applying competition law with regard to the English NHS. But how do the competition provisions of the HSCA 2012 relate to the application of competition law, and what would repealing them actually achieve? This blog post explores these two questions by specific reference to s.72 HSCA 2012, so “competition law” is defined as the anticompetitive agreements and abuse of dominance provisions.[1] Read the rest of this entry »


Is the Head of Germany’s Bundeskartellamt Right to Suggest Criminal Law Sanctions are Too Severe for Cartels?

November 24, 2014

(by Andreas Stephan) It has been reported by Bloomberg Businessweek that the President of the German Federal Cartel Office recently expressed doubts as to whether criminal sanctions were necessary in the fight against cartels. His comments are indicative of the diverging approaches taken by cartel enforcement regimes. They are made all the more interesting by the fact Germany is one of the most active European enforcers of criminal law against bid-rigging arrangements and a suggestion by another Bundeskartellamt official that individual sanctions should be abandoned altogether. Read the rest of this entry »


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 »


Can the OFT Succeed in its Latest Attempt at Bringing Criminal Charges Against an Individual for Cartel Conduct?

February 18, 2014

(by Scott Summers) The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has charged Peter Nigel Snee under section 188 of the Enterprise Act 2002. It is alleged that he ‘dishonestly agreed with others’ to fix prices, allocate markets and rig bids in the market for galvanised steel tanks for water storage, between 2004 and 2012. This is the UK’s first criminal cartel prosecution since the collapse of the British Airways trial back in 2010,[1] which left a number of unanswered questions about the ‘dishonesty’ element and the UK cartel offence in general. The Snee case will fall under the existing cartel offence. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 will, from 1 April 2014, strip the ‘dishonesty’ element and introduce new carve-outs and defences to the offence. Read the rest of this entry »


Is the New EU Private Enforcement Draft Directive Too Little Too Late?

June 15, 2013

(by Sebastian Peyer) After a decade of debate, consultation and guidance papers, DG Competition has finally released its draft Directive on actions for damages. It has been driven by the Commission’s desire to encourage private antitrust enforcement, currently deemed too low and mainly restricted to a small number of Member States, and the need to ‘optimise the interaction between public and private enforcement’. This second objective seeks to maintain the incentives for private firms to reveal cartels in return for leniency and engage in settlement procedures. A particular threat is posed by disclosure of leniency documents to third parties (e.g. Pfleiderer and National Grid). However, with rapidly developing litigation on the national level, there is a danger that aspects of the draft Directive are already behind the times. Read the rest of this entry »


Has the UK opened the floodgates to private enforcement of competition law?

January 30, 2013

(by Sebastian Peyer) Private antitrust enforcement is the least effective part of competition law in the UK. Yesterday, the government said what it intended to do about it. Its outline for a new regime of private actions in competition law followed a consultation on options for reform in 2012. It proposes fixes for a number of well-known litigation problems such as the limited jurisdiction of the specialist Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). However, of potentially greater interest to consumers and businesses will be the introduction of opt-out class actions. The debate about opt-out class actions has been fierce on national and EU levels but this is still a surprising move – will it work? Read the rest of this entry »


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