1 00118601 Emerging themes 2019 A4 AW v31 combined - Page 59



EMERGING THEMES 2019
Heightened expectations but stretched resources
Many expect that, post-Brexit, the UK authorities will
take on a greater number of cases, (including more
complex cases), which tend at present to be handled
by the Commission. The CMA has increased its annual
target for new competition enforcement investigations
from six in 2017-18 to ten in 2018-19, and both the CMA
and FCA will be under some pressure to ensure there
is no “enforcement gap” in the UK post-Brexit.
In summary
Despite continued uncertainty around the final shape
of Brexit, competition enforcement could change.
Parallel enforcement cases and merger reviews seem
likely, as UK regulators pick up the domestic aspects
of investigations that would previously have stayed in
Brussels. Ultimately, the risk of divergence on substance
could create an increased compliance burden for firms
operating in both the UK and remaining EU post-Brexit.
However, there will be other demands on the authorities’
resources post-Brexit. The FCA must balance conduct
regulation and competition enforcement, and the CMA
anticipates reviewing around 50 additional merger
cases each year. The CMA will also be taking on a new
state aid role following Brexit. While the CMA has been
allocated an additional £23.6 million to meet these
challenges, the FCA’s budget will remain flat.
It remains to be seen how the CMA and the FCA will
prioritise the cases they investigate both in the short
and longer term. It may be that, to the extent that there
is either overlap or divergence between EU and UK
investigations post-Brexit, UK authorities focus on cases
which are likely to produce the greatest benefit to UK
consumers. Filtering resource allocation through the lens
of “consumer interest” would be in line with both the CMA
and FCA’s statutory duties to promote competition for
the benefit of consumers.
JAMES MARSHALL
Partner, London
SARAH WARD
Senior Associate,
London
/59

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