Regulatory Timeline: Competition
Published on 25th Feb 2015
“The most significant developments in competition law in 2015 are likely to relate to damages actions for breach of the competition rules. Following extensive debate, the Damages Directive was finally published in the EU Official Journal on 5 December 2014. Member States will now have until 27 December 2016 to transpose the Directive into national law. In addition, in the UK, proposals to reform private enforcement of competition law have been introduced under the Consumer Rights Bill, which is expected to enter into force on 1 October 2015. There are also numerous cases in the courts, especially follow-on actions based on concluded regulatory investigations, which will continue to progress in 2015.”
1 April 2015 – FCA and PSR: concurrent powers
From 1 April 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Payment Services Regulator (PSR) will have full concurrent competition powers.
The FCA will have powers to enforce against anti-competitive behaviour in relation to the provision of financial services. This will stand alongside existing powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 to conduct market studies and make market investigation references to the CMA.
The PSR, created in April 2014, already has concurrent powers under the Enterprise Act and will obtain concurrent powers under the Competition Act concerning participation in payment schemes. On 26 January 2015 the PSR published a consultation on proposed guidance on how it intends to exercise its concurrent competition powers.
1 May 2015 – Expiry of the old Technology Transfer Block Exemption
On 1 May 2014, a new Technology Transfer Block Exemption (TTBE) (Regulation 316/2014) came into force. During the transitional period until 30 April 2015 it will apply in parallel with the old TTBE (Regulation 772/2004), so that agreements that satisfy the requirements of the old TTBE (and which were already in force on 30 April 2014) remain exempt from the prohibition in Article 101 TFEU.
From 1 May 2015, only the new Regulation will apply, so that agreements for the transfer of technology (patents, know-how or software copyright) will need to comply with the new rules if they are to be exempt.
30 September – 2015 Retail banking market investigation: provisional findings
Since the launch of its in-depth market investigation on 6 November 2014, the CMA has been pressing ahead with gathering information from interested parties and liaising with regulators and the Government. It has announced its intention to publish provisional findings in September 2015 (the statutory deadline being May 2016).
30 September 2015 – Draft EU legislation on card transaction fees
The EU is currently considering legislation, first proposed by the European Commission in 2013, to set caps on the fees that banks collect when customers use payment cards (such as MasterCard and Visa). This follows many years of legal wrangling over the fees, including findings by the European Commission of competition infringements and substantial ongoing damages claims in the UK courts.
On 27 January 2015, the European Parliament’s economic and monetary affairs committee endorsed the draft rules capping card payment fees. The European Parliament as a whole will now vote on the draft rules in April. The measures must also be approved by Member States and receive a formal endorsement from the Council of Ministers before they can take effect, which will be six months after the legislation enters into force. The legislation is unlikely to impact the ongoing litigation, which involves claims for repayment of past fees.
30 September 2015 – Government consultation on regulatory and competition appeals
In 2013, the Government consulted on possible improvements to appeal mechanisms in a variety of regulated sectors (including energy, rail and telecoms) as well as in competition cases more broadly. The intention was to examine whether appeals could be made more efficient, and costs reduced.
The proposals were met with criticism, and the Government has since failed (for more than a year) to respond. It remains to be seen during 2015 whether any of the proposals will be revived.