Webinar | Competition Law in Challenging Times
May 19 2020

This webinar is presented by Suzanne Rab, professor of Competition Law at Bruner University of London. She presents the response of the UK and EU Competition Regulators to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She first presents the situation in the UK, and how in March, 2020, the Covid-19 Taskforce was created. It was made to:

  1. Scrutinize market developments to identify harmful sales and pricing practices.
  2. Warn firms suspected exploitation.
  3. Enforce action if firms have failed to respond to warnings or are in breach of competition or consumer protection law, and
  4. prepare the CMA to advise the Government on emergency legislation.

The CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) is the main competition regulator in the UK. Within its responsibilities, they oversee investigating markets, mergers and breachers of competition, enforce consumer protection legislation, etc.

Some changes were made to the CMA working arrangements as a result of Covid. There were some delays to some ongoing caseworks, for example, a 6-month extension of statutory deadline was given for the funeral market investigation.

There was also temporary and partial relaxation of competition rules for some essential businesses, for example supermarkets and healthcare providers. Supermarkets were allowed to work together to feed the nation by sharing data on stock levels, cooperating to keep shops open, and sharing distribution depots, delivery vans and staff. Healthcare providers were allowed to work together, for example, sharing information about staff and facilities, coordinating the deployment of staff or joint purchasing of equipment.

Professor Rab then goes on to expand on the European Commission response to the pandemic. On March, 2020, the European Comission adopted a Temporary Framework for State Aid measures to support the economy in the current Covid 19 outbreak. The pandemic has necessitated a targeted relaxation of competition laws, and a toughening in some areas.

If you want to know more details of how both the UK and the EU managed competition law during the Covid-19 pandemic, we invite you to watch the complete webinar.