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A Presentation on the Importance of a Competition Agency Providing Guidance: The U.K. Experience

John Fingleton, Jun 01, 2011

I would like to thank Eduardo Pérez Motta and colleagues at the Comisión Federal de Competencia ("CFC") for inviting me here today to discuss this topic, which is of relevance to competition agencies worldwide, whether new or mature, large or small. The transparency initiatives and guidance being issued by the CFC are very similar to those happening at the Office of Fair Trading ("OFT"), and are a fine example of how competition policy is evolving and converging through national and international learning and communication. So it gives me great pleasure to discuss our experience in this area here today.

Providing guidance is a vital component of the OFT's work, and contributes greatly towards our drive for fair and competitive markets. Effective competition brings benefits to consumers and the economy as a whole, which is particularly important in a time of economic uncertainty.

At the OFT, we pursue our mission-to make markets work well for consumers-through a mixture of enforcement and business education. In other words, we balance helping companies and individuals to comply with the law with taking firm action when they do not. Issuing guidance forms an important part of business education, by providing clarity to business. Past decisions of the agency can also serve as guidance to business on what is, and is not, acceptable.

Consistency and clarity in the application of the law is crucial. It means businesses can plan ahead, and become more efficient. This, at a time when the U.K. is striving for economic growth, is a very important consideration. Effective use of our resources is also key as the OFT is put under increasing pressure to deliver value for money. The use of guidance immensely increases our ability to deliver effective outcomes for consumers.

During the course of this speech, I plan to explain further the reasons why the OFT considers it so important to provide guidance, in particular, by reference to the benefits created by issuing guidance. I will raise certain questions for your consideration and reflect on some recent OFT experience.

 

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