Expert legal advice from the competition lawyers

Category: Investigations

CMA investigates fake online reviews on Amazon and Google sites

First published by Author on May 05, 2022 in the following categories: Consumer Law Digital Industry Investigations and tagged with | | | | | |

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) previously announced that it had begun an investigation into potentially fake online reviews which may exist on major websites and online marketplaces. It is understood that there may be concerns that businesses are not doing enough to monitor and take down misleading reviews, and that some could be benefiting from them.

Since the birth of online shopping, consumers have been afforded a huge breadth of choice when buying products or services, and all in an easy way. However, the internet also comes with risks for consumers, with many scammers and disreputable businesses trying to take advantage of the faceless nature of online shopping, hiding behind a screen as they attempt to convince unsuspecting consumers to make purchases.

The existence of fake online reviews is one of the major downsides to online shopping, posing a difficulty for consumers as authenticity can often be hard to assess accurately. It is, therefore, important that businesses appropriately oversee online reviews and remove the fake ones, or they could be unfairly profiting from the deception of customers.

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Electronic drum sector appeal denied by Competition Appeal Tribunal

First published by Author on April 06, 2022 in the following categories: Consumer Law Industry Investigations and tagged with | | | |

cma auction investigation

Following an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) into alleged anti-competitive practices in the electronic drum sector, the Competition Appeal Tribunal previously rejected an appeal made by musical instrument company Roland. Roland had reportedly taken issue with the nature of a fine that it had previously agreed to pay.

As part of the settlement of the CMA case, Roland had been fined £4m for reportedly breaching competition law. As a result of the failed appeal and Roland’s reported breach of the settlement bargain, the fine was understood to have been increased to £5m.

The judgement made by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) showed it is not inclined to be lenient towards companies found guilty of breaking competition law. As advocates of consumer rights and fair business, we believe it is vital that organisations are punished accordingly if they break the law, and the CMA’s fines can have a powerful dissuasive effect on companies upon which they are imposed, and on companies in general. The upheld decision in the electronic drum sector case seems to be, therefore, a positive move by the CMA.

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Energy licence modification appeals

First published by Author on March 02, 2022 in the following categories: Consumer Law Industry Investigations and tagged with | | |

light suppliers fined by cma

Last year in March 2021, nine companies appealed to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) against Ofgem’s changes to energy licences. A price control decision made by Ofgem in December in the previous year resulted in changes to the prices that energy companies could charge to customers. As the energy licence modification appeals progressed, permission to appeal was granted and hearings were set for later in the 2021 period.

This case was not the first time Ofgem’s policy changes have been met with opposition from energy companies, with several energy companies participating in another appeal against the gas and electricity regulator, which concerns its changes to transmission charges.

As the competition regulator, the CMA can give a final decision on the energy license modification appeals once all matters have been considered. A final order was subsequently published at the end of last year, and you can read the relevant information and outcomes here.

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Most favoured nation clause example: ComparetheMarket fined £17.8m

First published by Author on February 02, 2022 in the following categories: Advertising Consumer Law Digital Industry Investigations Market Dominance Abuse Pricing Selling Restrictions and tagged with | | | | | | |

cma construction

Last year, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published the details of its full decision having fined ComparetheMarket £17.8m for reportedly breaching competition law. The investigation that had been concluded by the UK’s competition regulator led to the finding that the famous price comparison website was said to have broken the law by including a most favoured nation clause in some of the contracts it had with home insurance providers.

Over the course of December 2015-December 2017, ComparetheMarket is said to have used the clause to retain its domination of the comparison website market. The knock-on effect may have been the prevention of healthy growth of its competitors and possibly restricting customers from finding better deals on their home insurance.

Designed to empower consumers to find bargains in a crowded and confusing market, price comparison websites should be on the side of their users. This is why it was concerning that ComparetheMarket had been restricting competition seemingly for their own gain. The enforcement action taken by the CMA hopefully helped to restore competitiveness in the digital price comparison market, and is a real example of where the most favoured nation clause can lead to problems for competition law.

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CMA investigation into suspected anti-competitive pharmaceuticals agreements

First published by Author on January 05, 2022 in the following categories: Healthcare Industry Investigations Price Fixing Price Hikes Pricing and tagged with | | | | | | |

liothyronine tablets investigation

In late 2017, the CMA released a statement announcing that it had begun an investigation into suspected anti-competitive pharmaceuticals agreements between “various parties”.

The pharmaceutical companies under review were kept anonymous until 2019. Then, according to the CMA, they alleged that Alliance Pharmaceuticals, Focus, Lexon, and Medreich had reportedly made agreements to not compete in regard to supplying anti-nausea drug Prochlorperazine.

In January, the CMA published an update regarding their investigation, which was set to conclude in Autumn 2021. As the case approaches its end, we look back at investigation so far and assess the potential damage the anti-competitive agreements may have caused.

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Final report published by CMA on funerals competition investigation

First published by Author on October 06, 2021 in the following categories: Advertising Care Homes Consumer Law Covid-19 Industry Investigations Latest and tagged with | | | | |

double glazing

The CMA has finally published their concluding report on the funerals competition investigation which has been ongoing for several years, after it began in June 2018. Revealed to the public in mid-December, the report set out a series of suggested “sunlight remedies” to be applied in the funerals market sector.

These remedies are designed to empower consumers further when it comes to selecting funeral services, and to ensure that the sector remains under scrutiny following the investigation. The Remedies Implementation timetable was also published as of 8th January 2021, which set a deadline for implementing remedial action by 17th June 2021.

While there has been no action taken or fines issued as a result of this investigation so far, the CMA’s concerns for the funeral industry remain significant. As believers in fair competition, it is important that regulators work hard to make sure that business practices are fair for companies and customers. We believe that the thorough investigation has demonstrated strong support for the rights of the consumer in this industry.

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CMA investigates COVID-19 package holiday cancellations

First published by Author on August 04, 2021 in the following categories: Consumer Law Covid-19 Industry Investigations Latest Travel and Holidays and tagged with | | | | | | |

COVID-19 package holiday cancellations

In March 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced its launch of a taskforce to tackle the challenges faced by businesses and consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. As part of the taskforce, the CMA later launched an investigation into COVID-19 package holiday cancellations, which has now been ongoing since last summer.

The decision to launch the investigation was made by the CMA following reports that some package holiday providers had been withholding refunds, despite the fact customers were forced to cancel holidays due to lockdown restrictions either within the UK or abroad.

In our eyes, no customer could have foreseen the coronavirus pandemic, and it is important that consumers are protected in these exceptional circumstances. We hope that the CMA’s continued pressure on the travel industry will ensure that all customers receive the refunds that they could be entitled to.

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Suspected anti-competition arrangements in the financial services sector

First published by Author on July 07, 2021 in the following categories: Cartels Compensation Claims Industry Investigations Price Fixing Pricing and tagged with | | | | | |

finance and credit cards

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the government body that regulates business competition in the UK, previously published an update with regards to its investigation into the financial services sector relating to alleged suspected anti-competition arrangements.

The update followed the UK government’s declaration of a post-Brexit trade deal with the European Union, with the CMA announcing that the investigation will continue beyond the conclusion of the exit transition period. Previously, the investigation was also seeking to ascertain whether an infringement of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) had occurred, but now it will proceed in respect of UK competition law, solely investigating the possibility of a breach of the Competition Act 1998 (CA98).

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CMA launches children’s social care study

First published by Author on June 02, 2021 in the following categories: Consumer Law Industry Investigations Latest Pricing and tagged with | | |


In March, the CMA announced its intention to begin a children’s social care study in an effort to understand the rising costs of care and lack of supply reportedly affecting the sector. The review is only a preliminary step, but it could lead to future recommendations or, potentially, a full investigation into social care.

The announcement is said to have come following concerns from other organisations, which have raised the issue of private sector provision of social care and the high profits these private providers may be reaping. In January, Josh MacAlister, chair of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England, wrote to the CMA asking for the social care market to be investigated.

There is no evidence to suggest that the CMA is looking into anti-competitive practices in children’s social care, or breaches of competition law. Instead, the CMA is investigating how profit-driven companies may be affecting the provision of appropriate placements for children.

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CMA launches Apple App Store investigation over alleged anti-competitive behaviour

First published by Author on May 05, 2021 in the following categories: Industry Investigations Latest Market Dominance Abuse and tagged with | |

Apple App Store investigation

At the beginning of March, the CMA announced that it had launched an Apple App Store investigation over allegations that the company has been imposing unfair terms and conditions on developers looking to sell their apps via the App Store.

The App Store is the only means by which iPhone and iPad users can download third-party apps to devices, meaning Apple can control the ways in which all apps are distributed. As this is only the beginning of the investigation, the CMA has highlighted that this is not yet a confirmation that Apple has breached competition law.

It comes after two antitrust investigations by the European Commission into Apple were launched last June, one of which also concerned the App Store and the limits it places on app developers. The other is related to Apple Pay, and similarly raises the issue that other mobile payment services cannot be used on iPhones.

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