The UK Government's Department for Business Innovation and
Skills (BIS) announced on 14 October 2010 that the Competition
Commission (CC) and the competition and merger investigation
functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) would be combined in
one authority devoted to competition and markets. At the same time,
OFT functions in relation to consumer issues would be transferred
to other bodies. This proposal comes as part of the wider reform of
the administration of government and the review of public bodies
announced by the Cabinet Office, details of which can be
The stated aim of the Government in combining the CC and OFT is
to strengthen the competition regime, to streamline procedure and
to make it less burdensome while delivering cost savings. A final
decision from the Government as to the exact form of the new body
will follow a public consultation in 2011.
Under the proposal, which can be found here the new combined OFT-CC body would be
Cartel and antitrust cases
Functions, to be specified, in relation to regulated
The proposed merger will be met with approval in some quarters
where the feeling is that the overlap between the OFT and the CC
can produce delays and add unnecessary expense. On the other hand
there are concerns that the powers of any new body should not be
diminished in terms of its capacity to deal with large business
Enforcement of consumer law is currently shared between the OFT
and Trading Standards. Consumer complaints are handled by a number
of bodies including the Citizens Advice Bureau, Consumer Direct
(which is operated by the OFT) and Consumer Focus. Research and
advocacy work is handled by the OFT, Consumer Focus and some
specific consumer bodies in regulated sectors.
BIS has suggested that consumer issues should in the future be
handled by the Citizens Advice Bureau (which is a charity) and
Trading Standards (which are run by the local authority). Under
this plan, Trading Standards would be given responsibility for the
enforcement of the majority of consumer law while the Citizens
Advice Bureau would take over most of the consumer-related research
and advocacy functions handled currently by the OFT and Consumer
It is also proposed that the postal regulator Postcomm will be
merged with communications regulator Ofcom to deliver greater
efficiencies and form a single communication-focused regulatory
body. The changes will be put forward in a Public Bodies Bill to be
considered in the New Year.
This article was written for Law-Now, CMS Cameron
McKenna's free online information service. To register for
Law-Now, please go to www.law-now.com/law-now/mondaq
Law-Now information is for general purposes and guidance
only. The information and opinions expressed in all Law-Now
articles are not necessarily comprehensive and do not purport to
give professional or legal advice. All Law-Now information relates
to circumstances prevailing at the date of its original publication
and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent
The original publication date for this article was
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
In-house competition and compliance counsel will be well aware how important it is for their companies – in their day-today business dealings with customers, suppliers and competitors – to comply with competition rules at both EU and national level.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).