Posted by Mondaq
By Becket McGrath & Christine Graham (Cooley LLP)
The UK is due to leave the EU at 11pm, London time, on 29 March 2019, at which point the EU Treaties will cease to apply to the country. Amongst the myriad issues flowing from this are significant challenges to the operation of the UK competition law regime, which is closely entwined with EU competition law.
At the moment, the European Commission and UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) share responsibility for antitrust enforcement and merger control affecting UK market (with large, cross-border transactions tending to be reviewed by the Commission and more domestic transactions falling to be reviewed by the CMA). Commission antitrust investigations typically last several years, even before appeals are taken into account, meaning that investigations concerning conduct affecting UK markets will have been started well before Brexit takes effect and some will be continuing at the point of exit. Although merger control reviews take less time, there will inevitably be reviews underway at the time that the UK falls outside the Commission’s jurisdiction on 29 March.
There is therefore a pressing need for clarity on what happens to live cases at that point. It is also important for businesses to understand what competition laws will apply to their conduct within the UK from 30 March. Unfortunately, at the time of writ…