Section 11: Super-complaints to the OFT
51.This section gives certain designated consumer bodies the right to make a 'super-complaint' where they consider that there is any market feature or combination of features, such as the structure of a market or the conduct of those operating within it, that may be harming consumers to a significant extent. The market in question may be regional, national or supranational (where the UK forms part of that market). The aim of this procedure is to encourage groups who represent consumers to make relevant complaints on their collective behalf, and the OFT will be obliged to respond to a super-complaint within a specified time.
52.Subsections (2) and (3) set out the timeframe in which the OFT must respond. Within 90 days, the OFT will be required to make a considered response to a super-complaint, setting out what action, if any, it proposes to take under its competition or consumer powers. Eventual outcomes could, for example, include a formal reference to the CC or the publication by the OFT of a report recommending changes to regulation or self-regulation. The OFT must also explain the reasons behind its decision.
53.Subsection (4) allows the Secretary of State to alter the 90 day period for an OFT response should this period of time, through experience, prove to be either too lax or too limiting.
54.Subsection (6)provides for the route by which super-complainants will be named and describes who may qualify for super-complainant status: namely, those bodies who appear to represent the interests of consumers and meet the additional criteria for designation that the Secretary of State is required to publish.
55.Subsection (7) obliges the OFT to issue guidance on the presentation of a reasoned case. The OFT will of course require some evidence from the super-complainant in support of the super-complaint and super-complainants will expect to provide some supporting evidence. What constitutes a reasoned case will vary from case to case, but the OFT guidance will help super-complainants to submit a reasoned case. The OFT may also issue other relevant guidance, for example on the publicising of super-complaints or on super-complaints concerning the regulated sectors.
56.Subsection (9)cross-refers to the relevant definitions in Part 4 of the Act.