The OFT Discussion Paper – Private Actions In Competition Law: Effective Redress For Consumers And Businesses

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Emanuela Lecchi, May 04, 2007

As regulators and competition authorities are never tired to tell us, “A healthy competitive market place guarantees the best possible deal for European consumers and businesses alike.” (Neelie Kroes speech before the European Parliament in November 2004, when she was nominated to be the European Commissioner for Competition). The question is how to turn competition law and theory into an effective tool that will directly benefit consumers and businesses?

Private actions are seen as key, but of course there are difficulties and the European Commission kick-started the discussion process in December 2005 with its Green Paper on damages actions. Sixteen months later, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has published its thoughts for discussion in the UK forum.

The OFT’s discussion paper is very clear in its scope and deals with a number of important issues, including the effectiveness of individual actions compared to representative actions, the interaction between private and public enforcement and ways of reducing time and costs for bringing private claims. Some of us may be excused for wishing to see a discussion paper perhaps a bit more detailed on proposals for significant changes to encourage fair use of competition rules in litigation.

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