HomeInsightsUK Competition & Markets Authority consults on draft annual plan for 2024-2025

In last year’s annual plan, the Competition & Markets Authority (“CMA”), the UK regulator responsible for tackling anti-competitive behaviour and unfair commercial practices, set out its long-term strategy.  The CMA’s draft annual plan for 2024 to 2025, published on 11 December 2023, continues that strategy, builds on it, and updates the CMA’s near-term areas of focus for the next 12 months in three areas:

  • People can be confident they are getting great choices and fair deals. The plan includes an update to the CMA’s focus on protecting consumers from harmful practices to reflect its work on harmful online choice architecture and misleading pricing practices. It also adds, as a new area of focus, the CMA’s preparation for the new powers it is expected to have when the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer (“DMCC”) Bill is passed (see Wiggin’s update). Such powers will, for the first time, empower the CMA to decide when consumer law has been broken and give it the ability to directly impose significant financial penalties for breach. The plan also updates the area of focus on competition in UK labour markets with a reference to the recent launch of investigations into the employment of staff by TV producers and broadcasters (previously reported by Wiggin).
  • Competitive, fair-dealing businesses can innovate and thrive. The plan expands on the CMA’s existing focus on access to digital markets to include a reference to cloud services to reflect the significance of this work in the year ahead, following a referral to the CMA by Ofcom for a market investigation (previously reported by Wiggin). This section also expands the area of focus on encouraging competition in emergent markets with specific reference to the development and deployment of AI foundation models, building on the review the CMA conducted earlier in 2023 (previously reported by Wiggin).
  • The whole UK economy can grow productively and sustainably. The plan updates the area of focus on sustainable products and services to reflect progress in the CMA’s work since last year – including its programme of work on misleading green claims, work to encourage competitive markets for climate technology, and the implementation of the CMA’s Green Agreements Guidance for business. It also adds, as a new area of focus, preparations for the new statutory powers proposed under the DMCC Bill which will enable the CMA to intervene more effectively in digital markets, using new and targeted powers to regulate firms that it designates as having “Strategic Market Status” to ensure effective competition and to support innovation (see Wiggin’s update).

For more information and to respond to the consultation, which closes on 29 January 2024, click here.