The UK Government has recently announced that it proposes to enhance the CMA's consumer protection and competition powers. The new powers include:
- Giving the CMA the ability to directly enforce consumer law, including new powers to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers. This replaces going through a court process which can take years.
- Giving the CMA stronger tools to tackle companies colluding to fix prices (i.e. enhanced evidence gathering powers).
- Giving the CMA stronger tools to combat ‘killer acquisitions’ in which big businesses snap up rivals before they can launch new products or services.
- A proposed new law to tackle fake reviews.
- Taking steps to tackle so-called "subscription traps".
- Supporting consumers and traders to resolve more disputes without court action by improving Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services in consumer markets.
It is expected that these new powers will be set out in a Consumer and Competition Bill in next month's Queen's Speech.
This development is part of the UK Government's attempt to crack down on what it deems to be bad business practices.
For businesses, these proposed new powers mean greater risks of being caught up in either a CMA consumer enforcement investigation or a competition law investigation – neither of which is a pleasant or speedy process.