A Regulator’s Price Comparison Website is Not Sensible: comment on Catherine Waddams’s blog post

July 9, 2015

(by Stephen Littlechild) Catherine, I enjoyed your stimulating blog today. You are quite right to point out that CCP anticipated and confirmed the adverse effects that Ofgem’s non-discrimination clause had on competition, as now confirmed by the CMA. And I entirely agree with you that the proposed protective tariff for those that do not switch is very ill-advised. But I am puzzled why you consider it very sensible that Ofgem set up an independent price comparator website [PCW] for domestic customers. Read the rest of this entry »

Are the European Competition Authorities making a less anticompetitive market more anticompetitive? The Booking.com saga

July 8, 2015

(by Pinar Akman) There are at least seven national competition authorities in the EU alone which have recently dealt with or are currently dealing with most-favoured-customer (MFC) clauses adopted by online platforms such as Booking.com, Expedia, iBookstore, Amazon, etc. One of the most recent developments has been the acceptance of commitments offered by Booking.com to the French, Swedish and Italian competition authorities. The acceptance of the said commitments might represent at best an ineffectual solution to any problem existing on the relevant market. In the worst case scenario, the commitments may have pushed the industry from a potentially less-anticompetitive equilibrium to a potentially more-anticompetitive equilibrium. Read the rest of this entry »

CMA Provisional Energy Market Findings: Does protecting the weak (even temporarily) make them stronger?

July 7, 2015

(by Catherine Waddams) In its provisional findings on the energy market, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) focuses on weak consumer response – but one proposal, to introduce a protective tariff for those who do not switch, might prove counterproductive. Read the rest of this entry »

Why harmed consumers may be more satisfied in the future – the CMA’s new redress scheme

June 12, 2015

(by Sebastian Peyer) In an earlier blog post I wrote about the new opt-out collective action regime introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This is not the only measure that is to help consumers and other injured parties to obtain compensation for the violation of EU and UK competition law. The new sections 49C-49E of the Competition Act 1998 provide powers for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to approve voluntary redress schemes. This blog post considers whether these are a welcome innovation. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Collective actions after the Consumer Rights Act 2015

May 5, 2015

(by Sebastian Peyer) On 30 March 2015 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 received Royal assent, introducing opt-out collective actions into UK competition law enforcement.[1] The UK system of private enforcement has long being criticised for being ineffective in compensating small businesses and consumers. The new opt-out procedures is hoped to encourage victims of anticompetitive conduct to seek redress in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). It mainly implements the changes suggested by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skill (BIS) that had consulted on options for reform in 2012. Opt-out collective or class actions are one mechanism to aggregate small individual claims. The success of class action rules depends on whether they provide enough incentives for representatives and law firms to bring these complex and costly legal actions. The general rules on litigation funding in the UK and the restrictions introduced with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 may make it difficult to raise funds to bring collective redress claims in the CAT. Read the rest of this entry »


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