Speaking at the Law Society’s Competition Section Annual Dinner, Lord Currie set out his vision, and the challenges to be faced over the next year, with the bringing together of the Office of Fair Trading and Competition Commission to create the new competition Authority.
Lord Currie said:
“There is a great deal to be managed over the next year or so before the new Authority assumes its powers in April 2014, all in the context of delivering the ongoing case load consistently and effectively, without interruption.
“We need to make sure that the Competition and Markets Authority is established as a vibrant organisation with a fresh, dynamic culture that embodies both new elements and the best of the two legacy bodies and retains and integrates the talent of their staff. And we have the time to get this right.
“The combined organisation will be able to deploy resources more effectively and flexibly to the different parts of its work. It will deliver decisions in a more timely way with no diminution of quality, to the benefit of consumers and businesses. It will provide a single, and therefore stronger, voice and advocacy, both at home and internationally, on competition and consumer issues.”
Lord Currie outlined his vision for how the CMA will address the issues as part of the Government’s comprehensive competition and consumer landscape reform, including:
- deploying resources more effectively and flexibly to the different parts of its work, including Phase 1 and Phase 2 merger and markets investigations and decisions, adhering to tighter timetables;
- using new powers to make antitrust investigations more efficient and fair; and
- tackling hardcore cartels more effectively to ensure that markets can be as dynamic and innovative as possible to help achieve the economic growth that the country needs, through the proposed removal of the dishonesty test.
Lord Currie was clear that the CMA will play a bigger role in the enforcement of consumer law, working closely with other national organisations such as Trading Standards (through the recently established National Trading Standards Board) and Citizens Advice. Together this will result in effective competition and well-informed and empowered consumers, both making an important contribution to driving growth in the economy.
The CMA would also work in partnership with and provide leadership to the sector regulators competition and market issues. This would follow a path of enhanced cooperation, led by the new Authority, drawing on the sectoral expertise of the regulators and the competition expertise of the CMA.
Lord Currie confirmed that the process to appoint a Chief Executive to the new Authority was well under way, as were the transition processes for the two legacy bodies, and preparations were on track to begin full operation in April 2014.
Notes for editors
1. Lord Currie was appointed as Chair Designate of the Competition and Markets Authority in July 2012. The CMA will begin operation in April 2014. David Currie will lead the organisational design of the new body and work closely with Government, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission (CC) to ensure a smooth and effective transition. He will establish the CMA’s vision and strategic direction and play a central role in the appointment of its Chief Executive and Board.
2. The Government announced its plans for the creation of the CMA in March 2012. It will bring together the Competition Commission with the competition and markets functions of the Office of Fair Trading to become a world-leading unitary authority, advocating competition both at home and abroad.
3. The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, will create the legal framework to establish the CMA.
4. The Government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries'. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’ (PDF 1.7MB), published at Budget 2011:
- To create the most competitive tax system in the G20
- To make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
- To encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
- To create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Work is underway across Government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the Government wants the economy to travel.
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