Beyond Brexit transition – the CMA’s role post-Brexit

Contacts: Juliette Parkinson, Mark Jones

What's the issue?

The competition law regime in the UK has remained largely unchanged since it left the EU at the start of this year because the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU provided for a "transition period" maintaining the existing system until 31 December 2020.  From this point, however, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) will cease to be part of the network of EU competition authorities coordinated by the European Commission (“Commission”).

Where are we now?

The key difference will be that the CMA's role and powers in respect of cases initiated after 31 December 2020 will no longer be constrained by the jurisdiction of the Commission under the EU competition system.  The Commission's review of mergers in the EU will no longer extend to their impact on UK markets, and nor will the Commission have jurisdiction to start new EU antitrust investigations with regard to business conduct in the UK.  Generally speaking, such matters will fall instead under the sole competence of the CMA applying the UK domestic competition rules.

What impact does this have?

The end of the transition period means that businesses operating in the UK and on the Continent  will be exposed to a greater extent to the possibility of parallel investigations by the UK and EU competition authorities.  The CMA and UK courts will have more flexibility regarding the extent to which they continue to follow the established EU case law which has underpinned the domestic competition regime to date, or choose to depart from it.  Businesses should be prepared to manage the risks of complying with both sets of rules post-Brexit. 

For more information on this issue please read UK competition law landscape post-Brexit – the CMA’s role and Brexit and the transition period – implications for the EUMR's one-stop-shop.



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