UK competition authority says it will cope with increased post-Brexit caseload

14 September 2017. By Simon Zekaria.

A shift in merger-control responsibilities to the UK after Brexit won't drain the resources of the Competition and Markets Authority even though it will have to grapple with a bigger caseload, a senior official said today.

"It is not going to be the case that the CMA's resources will be mopped up by merger control," Claudia Berg, senior legal director at the UK antitrust watchdog, said at a conference* in London.

The CMA has warned the UK's withdrawal from the EU will be complex and resource-intensive for regulators, and that Brexit could take resources away from competition enforcement.

On merger control, the CMA's workload will rise, because larger merger cases, which would previously have been reviewed by EU regulators, will now fall into its lap.

In February, CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli indicated that Brexit could increase the CMA's merger caseload by up to 50 percent over 2014 levels. This could potentially result each year in an additional 50 initial "phase I" cases, and six in-depth "phase II" cases.

However, Coscelli says the CMA is also determined that its enforcement efforts will not waver in the run-up to Brexit, which he sees as vital given the size of its portfolio of antitrust and consumer cases.

In the year through March, the regulator imposed 100 million pounds ($133 million) in antitrust fines — more than double the previous 12-month period.

Berg said the goal of the CMA is to step up antitrust enforcement, in order to "continue" to ensure the regulator remains rigorous and effective.

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