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Enterprise Act 2002

Section 45: Power of Secretary of State to refer matter to Commission

158.This section allows the Secretary of State to make the decision on whether a merger raising public interest considerations should be referred to the CC.

159.Subsection (1) ensures that the Secretary of State only has the power to refer a case if there is an intervention order in force relating to that case and the OFT has produced a report on that case for the Secretary of State.

160.Subsections (2)–(7) provide that the Secretary of State may make a reference if she believes that there could be a ‘relevant merger situation’ that might be adverse to the public interest. In deciding whether to make a reference, she will be bound to accept the views of OFT on any competition-related issues, but may also have regard to the public interest considerations cited in the intervention notice.

161.Thussubsection (6) ensures that the Secretary of State will view a competition problem identified by the OFT as being adverse to the public interest unless she considers this to be outweighed in the overall assessment.

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