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Lexis+ AI
Sophie Cameron

Features and Opinion Editor, Solicitors Journal

New Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill announced

New Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill announced


The bill aims to strengthen the powers to combat unfair practices

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced on 25 April, the new Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which aims to encourage competition among UK businesses and strengthen the powers of the regulator to combat unfair practices.

The bill focuses on the following three areas: (1) consumer protection, including new rules that will allow the CMA to be more effective in its enforcement of the rules, empower the CMA to decide when consumer law has been broken, rather than having to take each case to court, and give the CMA the power to fine businesses up to ten per cent of their global turnover; (2) digital markets, which will see the bill establish a new, targeted regime built for the digital age, overseen by the CMA’s Digital Markets Unit that will use a proportionate approach to hold digital firms accountable for their actions and will set rules that will prevent firms with strategic market status from using their size and power to limit digital innovation or market access; and (3) competition, which includes increased investigative and enforcement powers for the CMA, changes to the competition framework including updated merger and fine thresholds that will make it easier for the CMA to take action against mergers which harm UK consumers and businesses.

Commenting on the new bill, Sarah Cardell, Chief Executive of the CMA, said: “We welcome this flagship bill which provides the CMA with new powers to do even more to protect people, businesses and support the economy. This has the potential to be a watershed moment in the way we protect consumers in the UK and the way we ensure digital markets work for the UK economy, supporting economic growth, investment and innovation. People rely on free and fair markets to get the best deal possible, but also expect that rules are in place to protect them when things go wrong. Proposals to give the CMA stronger enforcement powers when firms break consumer law – including the ability to directly impose fines for the first time – are crucial to ensure we can continue cracking down on rip-offs and underhand deals, helping to deter firms from taking advantage of people. Digital markets offer huge benefits, but only if competition enables businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to succeed. This bill is a legal framework fit for the digital age. It will establish a tailored, evidenced-based and proportionate approach to regulating the largest and most powerful digital firms to ensure effective competition that benefits everyone. We look forward to supporting this bill as it passes through the legislative process and stand ready to use these new powers once approved by Parliament.”

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