A Tale of Two Sector Inquiries: Comparing and Contrasting Experiences in the U.K. and EU

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Suzanne Innes-Stubb, Mark Powell, Nov 12, 2008

The European Commission and the U.K. Competition Commission (“CC”) both have powers to carry out sector inquiries (or “market investigations” in the U.K. terminology) to investigate apparent restrictions or distortions of competition in particular markets within their jurisdictions. In each case, the statutory basis for inquiries has been reinforced within the past five years (Article 17 of Regulation (EC) No. 1/2003 for the European Commission and Part 4 of the Enterprise Act 2002 for the CC). Each authority has carried out a number of inquiries under its revamped legislation (three by the European Commission; nine by the CC ) and each authority can, and does, request an enormous amount of information from companies in the course of an inquiry. However, the similarities between the two types of sector inquiries pretty much end there. This article draws on experience of recent inquiries by the European Commission and the CC to compare the purpose and scope of their market inquiries, as well as to contrast the approach of the two authorities.