Outlook for Competition Law Enforcement in 2020 – the View from Ropes & Gray

In The News
December 2, 2019

Ropes & Gray’s London antitrust team has made the following predictions for what competition law enforcement trends they expect to see in 2020, with a focus on the UK. If you would like further information, Lisa Kaltenbrunner is available for interview. 

  • Brexit implications: in preparation for the UK exiting the European Union, we have seen the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) taking a more interventionist approach towards merger control and significantly raising its international profile in global deals.  We expect this enforcement drive to continue, with the CMA, on its own initiative, picking up more and more global deals. 
  • Voluntary or not: we expect further discussions as to whether the CMA’s merger control regime should remain voluntary.  At present, the voluntary regime allows companies to complete a deal prior to seeking CMA clearance.  A mandatory and suspensory regime would catapult the CMA on a level playing field with US and EU enforcement agencies, a change the CMA is pushing for.  However, we don’t expect any imminent change in legislation and consider that the CMA has already demonstrated that it has the resources to carry out in-depth reviews of global transactions, even those where parties fight the jurisdictional argument. 
  • Convergence of laws: resulting from the increased interplay between data privacy and competition law, for example the German’s competition enforcement agency’s investigation into Facebook, we expect a closer collaboration and cooperation between the relevant enforcement agencies as well as between the relevant legal teams in-house and private practice in order to address such cases together.
  • Which market to pick: we expect the CMA’s focus to remain on the pharmaceutical industry, digital markets, online advertising, and testing established theories of harm in the realm of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Submit or pay: in the last couple of years, we have started seeing an increasing appetite by the CMA for imposing fines for non-compliance with mandatory information requests.