Expert legal advice from the competition lawyers

Tag: competition law

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.

read more


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.

read more


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.

read more


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.

read more


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.

read more


Digital Markets Taskforce

First published by Author on December 01, 2021 in the following categories: Advertising Consumer Law Digital Industry Latest and tagged with | | | |

car rental sites

Many businesses have made great leaps in their development due to technology, and the CMA’s (Competition and Markets Authority) Digital Markets Taskforce was created to investigate how competition could be regulated in a way befitting of the digital age. Asked by the government to carry out an advisory report, the CMA look to have made good on this goal, having published their findings and recommendations in December last year.

The revamped approach to digital firms will hopefully promote fair competition and reaffirm the rights of consumers, two of the key principles that must be there to ensure for fair competition. Both can be essential to ensuring a level playing field, and any failure in respect of these principles could constitute a breach of competition law. Breaches of competition law can often be very bad for the consumer, so the work of the CMA and other regulators is vital.

read more


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.

read more


Precast concrete drainage cartel – appeal denied

First published by Author on September 08, 2021 in the following categories: Cartels Market Sharing Price Fixing Price Hikes Pricing and tagged with | | | | | |

construction

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has previously confirmed the denial of an appeal made by FP McCann Ltd, a company understood to be involved in an alleged precast concrete drainage cartel, who reportedly sought to evade the £2.5m issued to them for their reported infringement of competition law.

The earlier update with regards to the cartel investigation marks an end to the four-year legal case. It is understood that several companies had previously either admitted to their illegal practice or accepted penalties, while FP McCann lodged an appeal in December 2019 with the hope that the ruling would be overturned.

The CMA’s final decision looks to mark a victory for businesses and consumers across the UK, setting an example that any form of illegal price-fixing and collusion will not be tolerated by the watchdog.

read more


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).

read more


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.

read more