On 8 September 2020, Law Society of England and Wales sent a written response to the European Commission in respect of their proposed new competition tool.

We set out the concerns of the Law Society of England and Wales’ members, whilst also suggesting a number of alternative actions which could be taken by the Commission to achieve its current policy aim. We attributed our advice to recent UK market studies and associated reforms by the Competition and Markets Authority.

In summary, we suggested the following:

  • Before introducing any potentially far-reaching new tool, the Commission could make significant headway in addressing its concerns by taking a number of other steps – in particular, making better use of existing tools.
  • Should the Commission proceed with implementing the new tool, it should be subject to both legal and procedural safeguards highlighting that a clear legal test should be developed for undertaking investigations and imposing any remedies; there must also be a right for parties to respond to both the findings and proposed remedies, in a reasonable time period; and that there needs to be operational independence and availability of judicial review.

We thanked the Commission for the opportunity to share our belief that the creation of a new tool at this time may itself create a number of new risks, especially that a new tool could duplicate or cut across the existing tools, especially Articles 101 and 102.

We look out for the Commission to issue its response to the consultation, ahead of discussions with the Parliament and Council. This is scheduled to take place in the last quarter of 2020.

For further information, please contact Marcus.corry@lawsociety.org.uk