Competition & Regulatory know how

Tesco’s Booker buyout is bad news for shoppers

The watchdog is failing to consider the role of potential competition in Britain’s narrowing grocery sector, writes Stephen Hornsby This article originally appeared in the The Brief, the legal supplement by The Times. It cannot be right for eight companies in the UK to account for 80 per cent of retail grocery sales — and yet, […]


FOX/SKY; how feeble Ofcom report increases Murdoch’s chance of success

Whatever one thinks of Rupert Murdoch, his ambitions to acquire the shares of Sky that he does not already own can only ultimately be constrained by robust theories and facts that persuade an independent regulator that it is more likely than not that the public interest will be harmed (the legal test for control of […]

Brexit report on “justice for families, individuals and businesses”

The House of Lords EU Committee has published a report about the effect of Brexit on three EU Regulations which together ‘play an important role in facilitating the daily operation of the European legal system’. Jonathan Haydn-Williams looks at the Committee’s conclusions as to the Brussels I Regulation ‘recast’, relating to jurisdiction and judgments in civil […]


Dispute resolution in a future EU / UK trade “deal”: what are the likely costs of avoiding indefinite European Court of Justice jurisdiction?

In most commercial negotiations, discussions about dispute resolution procedures are usually left until last. The parties don’t like to poison negotiations by talking about how they resolve disputes before they even reach agreement. But the future resolution of disputes in any eventual EU/UK agreement has exercised both sides already in the embryonic negotiations. This is […]

Draft e-Privacy Regulation published by EU Commission

On 10 January 2017, the European Commission presented its formal proposals for a new ePrivacy Regulation. These represent an overhaul of privacy rules relating to direct marketing, cookies and similar technologies, and other forms of online monitoring. The Commission’s aim is to have the new Regulation adopted by 25 May 2018. Accordingly, unless the UK […]


Recent ruling highlights different disclosure requirements for accountants and solicitors

Question: what is the extent of solicitors’ duty of disclosure, and in particular is there a duty to disclose information gained from acting for one client to another? The decision in Harlequin Property (SVG) Limited v Wilkins Kennedy (a Firm) [2016] EWHC 3188 (TCC) held that accountants do not owe such a duty and in […]

After the Premier League file closure: is this the new ‘industrial policy’ in action or time to strip Ofcom of its competition enforcement powers?

This week’s announcement that Ofcom is closing its investigation into Virgin Media’s complaint that the Premier League is restricting the supply of live TV rights to its matches, in return for the Premier League increasing their number from 168 to 190 and agreeing that no single buyer will scoop the pool next time the rights […]


Why Britain’s current semi-detachment from EU Competition principles could become complete post Brexit

Much of the speculative commentary on Brexit and its implications for competition law has adopted “a business as usual” analysis.  It is said that we are bound to follow EU law while we are members and that it is likely that competition law based on the EU/EEA model will kick in once we leave – […]

Sports Governing Bodies face EU intervention: could their members actually leave the Hotel California as a result?

The effect of having only one governing body for a sport is to make member clubs and individual athletes like the guests in the fabled Hotel California; they can check out any time they like but they can never leave because there is nowhere else to go to. Last week’s announcement that the European Commission […]


What is really wrong with the new criminal cartel offence?

Too broad, too limited: and too far and too fast. Over the summer, a jury took less than three hours to acquit two businessmen  in the galvanised tank industry who had been charged with price fixing.  One other member of ‘ring’ who had pleaded guilty is awaiting sentence and is doubtless regretting his plea (see […]

Significant changes to company law in the UK, Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015

The government’s aim in introducing the Act is to enable small businesses to innovate, grow and compete. The hope is also that internationally it will endorse the UK as a trusted and fair place to do business. The Act received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015 and is set to have a significant impact on […]


Competition law and the cultural industries: is there now a “social” exemption?

Collective agreements between unions and employers setting minimum rates of pay which are intended to improve working conditions of employees generally fall outside the scope of competition law.   So trades unions can agree minimum fees for their members without fear of fines for breaches of the prohibition on cartels. But what about collective agreements entered […]

Does the FIFA Ban on TPO infringe EU Law?

Whether it be huge transfer fees, large broadcasting deals or the financial fair play rules, football and finance is rarely out of the news. The latest issue to rear its head is third party ownership of football players. Whilst the issue in the UK dates back to the well known Tevez-Mascherano saga in 2007, FIFA’s […]


Virgin Media’s Ofcom complaint – payback time for the long suffering fans?

Stephen Hornsby’s article originally appeared in World Sports Law Report Volume 12, Issue 12, December 2014. To access the original, please visit: http://e-comlaw.com/world-sports-law-report/article_template.asp?ID=1729 Virgin Media’s Complaint to Ofcom As noticed briefly in last months issue, Virgin Media has complained to Ofcom that the English Premier League (“EPL”) practice of restricting the number of games available […]

UEFA Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFPR) settlements, Striani complaint and EU Law

  With attentions naturally focussed on an evenly balanced and therefore particularly exciting World Cup, where a number of less heralded small countries are holding their own and even defeating much larger rivals – the role of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play Regulations (FFPR) in protecting the magic circle of clubs from new kids on the […]


A New Competition And Markets Authority: But No New Dawn For Public Competition Law Enforcement In The UK

With a certain amount of trumpeting, the new Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) came into existence on 1 April – thus merging the OFT and the Competition Commission. The CMA has the largest annual budget (£52m) of any competition law enforcement agency in Europe – so much will be expected of it. Unfortunately, any reform […]

The Corporate Veil And Its Piercing As Clear As…?

Introduction The issue of piercing the corporate veil has recently come under the spotlight. However, the recent cases have sometimes been decided in a way that is not entirely consistent and this has caused uncertainty. They can have important application both for individuals in the way that they structure their affairs and companies, particularly international […]


Should Merger Control Be Repatriated To The UK (And All Other Member States)?

Since 2012, the Government has been conducting an audit of EU powers (or “competences” to use the jargon) with a view to seeking whether their repatriation to the UK in appropriate cases.  In a recent consultation, it has got round to asking interested parties on about the current division of regulatory responsibilities between Brussels and […]

Ofcom will Lose Competition Enforcement Powers

The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill currently going through Parliament will merge the OFT with the Competition Commission creating the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) and in so doing will broadly align the UK enforcement of competition law with systems in continental Europe such as DG Comp and the German cartel office. In the little noticed clause 45, the new CMA will have the power to insist that Ofcom hands over responsibility of a given competition matter to it.


ECHR – its Growing Influence on Substantive Competition Law

To date, the impact of the European Convention on Human Rights (EHCR) on competition law has mostly been confined to procedural matters. For example, Article 6 provisions in ECHR that recite a number of fundamental rights of defence, have often been invoked by companies that have been found guilty of competition law infringements on the grounds that these rights were ignored by the EC Commission. Although these challenges have generally been unsuccessful, it is now accepted that Article 6 rights apply not only to criminal proceedings in the classic sense, but can be used by companies subjected to regulatory fines.