Photo of Sophie Albrighton

Sophie Albrighton

Sophie Albrighton advises clients on all aspects of competition law, including merger control, market investigations, cartel investigations, abuse of dominance, and state aid. She regularly advises clients on EU, UK and multi-jurisdictional merger control and foreign direct investment. She also has extensive experience advising clients subject to investigations by various competition regulators in the EU and the UK, as well as developing and carrying out bespoke compliance training for clients in sectors including media, FMCG, retail, energy, travel, and financial services.

This year, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) is set to gain a range of new enforcement powers under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (“DMCC”) Act (the final text is now available here). The DMCC Act received Royal Assent on 24 May 2024. However, with certain exceptions, the Act’s provisions will not come into force until secondary legislation is passed. The CMA initially expected its new responsibilities to become operational in the Autumn, but this timeline may be delayed due to the UK’s election on 4th July. On the same day as the DMCC Act became law, the CMA published for consultation its new Digital Markets Competition Regime Guidance.

An outline of the key provisions of the DMCC Act can be found here. As the CMA sets the groundwork for exercising its powers under this new regime, this blog post considers five practical considerations for firms active in the UK.

Key takeaways:

  1. The CMA will administer the new regime through a specialist Digital Markets Unit, which was established over three years ago.
  2. The DMCC Act may diverge from the EU’s Digital Markets Act, both in the companies being designated, and the obligations imposed on designated companies.
  3. The interplay between the DMCC regime and existing regulatory obligations – particularly the GDPR – is likely to raise practical challenges.
  4. We expect the CMA to exercise its powers under the digital markets regime alongside existing antitrust tools (which the DMCC Act amends).
  5. The CMA’s jurisdictional thresholds to review mergers under the UK’s merger control regime will change as a result of the DMCC Act.

Continue Reading The UK’s New Digital Markets Regime: Some Key Takeaways

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers (“DMCC”) Act received Royal Assent on 24 May 2024 (the final text is now available here). The DMCC Act will only enter into force, however, when secondary commencement legislation has been enacted (with some minor exceptions). This is expected to occur in Autumn 2024, but it could be delayed due to the General Election taking place on 4th July. This secondary legislation could also stagger the dates on which separate provisions become effective.

This legislation ushers in a new rulebook for the largest digital firms active in the UK, alongside some consequential changes to the broader UK competition law framework. In relation to digital markets specifically:

  • The Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) may designate certain companies active in digital markets in the UK as holding “Strategic Market Status” (“SMS“) in relation to a specific digital activity. Companies designated with SMS will need to comply with tailored conduct requirements imposed by the CMA and report certain transactions to the CMA ahead of completion.
  • The CMA can make “pro-competition interventions” (“PCIs“) to impose requirements to remedy or prevent conduct in relation to digital activities which the CMA considers to have an adverse effect on competition.
  • The CMA will be able to impose fines of up to 10% of worldwide group turnover for non-compliance with SMS conduct requirements or “pro-competition orders”.

More broadly, the DMCC Act includes some amendments to the UK’s existing competition law regime which apply to all sectors of the economy. In particular, the DMCC Act introduces a new merger control jurisdictional review threshold designed to capture vertical and conglomerate mergers where the parties do not overlap, applicable to any industry. Additionally, the DMCC Act introduces a fast-track route to a Phase 2 review without the need to concede at Phase 1 that there is a realistic prospect that the merger gives rise to a substantial lessening of competition.

This post outlines each of these changes. For an analysis of some key practical considerations for companies in light of the DMCC Act, please see this separate post here.Continue Reading Overview of the UK’s New Digital Markets Regime