U.K. Antitrust Regulator Demands More Resources for After Brexit

  • Merger workload expected to increase when U.K. leaves the EU
  • CMA asks for clarity on relationship between EU and U.K. law

Britain’s antitrust regulator asked for significantly more resources to deal with an expected increase in mergers and antitrust oversight when the country leaves the European Union.

Brexit may also mean regulations need to be changed to ensure the Competition and Markets Authority retains access to confidential information from mergers to allow it to make rulings, the U.K. agency said in a paper submitted to the House of Lords EU committee.

“Retaining the current approach would provide a degree of stability and predictability for business," the CMA said in the paper. "It will be important to retain a legally robust competition policy, including ensuring exit does not give rise to policy or enforcement gaps and that unnecessary legal uncertainty and litigation are avoided."

Elsewhere in the paper the CMA calls for clarity on what the relationship between EU and U.K. competition law will look like and whether U.K. courts will have to pay attention to EU laws when deciding antitrust cases.

In a series of questions posed to the committee, the CMA said it will need to know who has jurisdiction over the U.K. aspects of antitrust probes under EU law before and after Brexit. It’s also seeking guidance on avenues for appeals of decisions taken to the European Courts.

"There are likely to be a number of suspected infringements committed pre-exit," the CMA said. The EU and U.K. should make arrangements for dealing with such infringements “to provide appropriate clarity and certainty to businesses under investigation and to minimize disruption and inefficiency in relation to existing authority investigations and enforcement activities."

The U.K. moved to keep post-Brexit London at the center European commercial legal disputes in a position paper published last month in a bid to hold onto the 25 billion pounds ($34 billion) that litigation contributes to the country’s economy.

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