The Competition & Markets Authority ("CMA") and the Office of Communications ("OFCOM") have entered into a non binding Memorandum of Understanding to encourage cooperation and greater understanding between the two regulators and to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.

Memorandum of Understanding ("MoU")

Following recent changes in UK legislation, the CMA has entered into a number of MoUs with regulators with concurrent competition powers. The main purpose of the MoU is to establish greater understanding between CMA and OFCOM through sharing of expertise, information, ideas and experience in relation to competition prohibitions and market investigations in the electronic communications, broadcasting and postal sectors (the "Sectors").

The CMA has statutory responsibilities for investigating breaches of competition law and conducting market studies and market investigations where there may be competition and consumer problems. OFCOM's principal duties include furthering the interests of consumers in relevant markets, where appropriate by promoting competition. The MoU explains that the CMA and OFCOM wish to use their respective powers to achieve more competitive outcomes in the Sectors for the benefit of consumers so as to make markets in those sectors work well for consumers, business in the sector and businesses that use those services, as well as the economy in which those services play an important part.

The MoU sets out the main areas that the CMA and OFCOM will focus on to complement each other's work:

  • promoting co-operation and coordination between the CMA and OFCOM when dealing with cases of suspected anti-competitive behaviour for which they have concurrent powers;
  • promoting co-operation and coordination between the CMA and OFCOM when dealing with market studies and market investigation references for which they have concurrent powers;
  • facilitating the efficient and effective handling of cases of suspected anticompetitive behaviour within the electronic communications, broadcasting and postal services markets;
  • avoiding duplication of activity, wherever possible; and
  • ensuring transparency as to the respective roles of the CMA and OFCOM for individuals and consumers affected.

Increased communication appears to be the key focus of the MoU with the CMA and OFCOM to meet and communicate regularly and consult each other before exercising their powers on a case where they have concurrent powers. This should help reduce duplication, encourage transparency and facilitate efficiency.

Concerns over confidentiality constraints in relation to information sharing have been dealt with in the MoU. It explains that any disclosure of information and use of the same will only be to the extent permitted by law. Where information has been provided to either the CMA or OFCOM in circumstances where that person is afforded protection from sanctions under the leniency programme of that regulator, the passing of that information will not result in that other regulator affording that person any lesser protection.

To view the MoU in full, click here.

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