CMA chair proposes courts should handle regulatory appeals
Chair of the Competition and Markets Authority Andrew Tyrie has proposed removing responsibility for regulatory appeals from his organisation and transferring it to the courts.
In a letter to Greg Clark, secretary of state for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Lord Tyrie (pictured) said there was a “strong case” for stopping the CMA handling “references and appeals of certain decisions made by the sector regulators, concerning, among other things, licensing conditions, industry code modifications, tariff methodologies and price controls”. He continued: “These could be consolidated in the courts. Were the courts to take on these functions, it would simplify appeal arrangements across the regulatory landscape, and also enable the CMA to put more resources into the investigation and remedy of consumer detriment.”
The suggestion was part of a letter detailing an major package of proposals to “bolster competition and put consumers even more directly at the heart of the CMA’s work”. Among the wider proposals were:
• a new statutory duty on the CMA, and courts applying competition and consumer laws, to treat the interests of consumers, and their protection from detriment, as paramount;
• a new statutory duty on the CMA to conduct its investigations quickly, supported by powers to take action against firms supplying misleading or false information; and
• a statutory responsibility to address the adverse effect on the consumer in all aspects of the CMA’s markets work.
The suggestions came in response to a request from the business secretary last summer for Lord Tyrie to review the system as part of the government’s review of the competition regime and its ongoing reform work flowing from its Consumer Green Paper.
Lord Tyrie commented: “The UK is an excellent place to do business, one in which innovation and dynamic companies can thrive. But the growth of new and rapidly emerging forms of consumer detriment, partly caused by digitisation, and the public’s increasing doubt about whether markets work for their benefit, both now require a response. We have an analogue system of competition and consumer law in a digital age. Similar observations are being made about comparable regimes elsewhere in the world. Reform is essential. Hence these far reaching proposals, which will enable the CMA to act more rapidly, and put the consumer first, so as to make the CMA more effective in the third decade of the 21st century.”
Clark added: “These proposals provide a firm basis for further work. They are an encouraging step in the right direction and should now form part of the proposals on which we will consult in the competition review.”