Competition Law Update - May 2024

Welcome to the May edition of our bi-monthly newsletter which explores recent competition law developments across the UK and EU.

This edition includes an article summarising the main developments since the EU’s Digital Markets Act was implemented, as well as a guide to how the UK equivalent legislation will operate once it comes into force later this year. That legislation (in the form of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which was finally passed yesterday), in addition to creating the UK’s digital markets regime, also introduces wide-ranging changes to UK competition and consumer laws, strengthening the CMA’s enforcement powers and expanding its jurisdictional reach. These changes (which appear to have been included as a result of extensive lobbying by the CMA), are also explored in this month’s edition. 

Continuing with the enforcement theme, we also include a review of CMA investigations and market studies opened so far in 2024, as well as a summary of a High Court judgment overturning the Competition Appeal Tribunal's decision to refuse an application by the CMA for a search warrant (in the context of a cartel investigation) in respect of residential premises. 

Finally, we explore the Opinion of the Advocate-General in the landmark Illumina/Grail case, dealing with referrals from Member States to the Commission under the EU merger regulation. That opinion challenges the original decision of the Commission (and the judgment of the General Court which upheld it). The issue will be settled by the judgment of the Court of Justice of the EU, most likely later this year.

Brussels vs Big Tech: DMA battle lines drawn

The Digital Markets Act is a landmark regulation that aims to curb the power of large online platforms in the EU and foster fair competition in digital markets. In this article we provide an overview of the main developments that have taken place since it entered into force, including the designation of seven gatekeepers and 24 core platform services, the opening of non-compliance and market investigations by the European Commission, and the launch of appeals by some of the affected companies. We also assess what those developments tell us about the Commission’s approach to enforcing the DMA.
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A new regime to regulate digital markets in the UK

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill (DMCCB) has now been passed. The legislation will establish a new pro-competition regime to address the conduct and market power of so-called “Big Tech” firms. We have produced a guide to the new regime which provides both an overview and in-depth look at the regime’s key features.
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The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill – expanding the scope of the CMA’s powers

The DMCCB will introduce wide-ranging changes to existing UK competition and consumer laws. In this article we set out our pick of the key amendments that businesses should be aware of.
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The CMA’s current focus: a closer look at the investigations and market studies opened in 2024

Recent months have seen a noticeable uptick in the number of CMA investigations and market studies being opened. In this article we provide an overview of the reviews and investigations announced since the start of 2024.
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CMA High Court victory opens the door to more domestic dawn raids

The CMA has successfully overturned the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s decision to refuse a warrant to inspect residential premises in connection with an investigation into suspected anti-competitive conduct in the construction chemicals sector. The ruling has significant implications for the way in which the CMA conducts cartel investigations, as it lowers the legal threshold for the issuing of such warrants in future investigations.
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Illumina/Grail: AG Emiliou’s opinion on referrals under the EU Merger Regulation

Advocate General Emiliou has issued his Opinion in the landmark Illumina-Grail case. The Opinion challenges the Commission and General Court’s broad interpretation of Article 22, stirring discussions on jurisdictional boundaries and regulatory balance within the EU.
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This edition was edited by Senior Associate, Charlie Critchley. If you have any questions about the articles in this newsletter, do not hesitate to reach out to Charlie, or any of your usual contacts: Cameron FirthMalcolm WaltonChristophe HumpeEmma RadcliffeTom UsherFiona Beattie, or Caja Grisenbach.