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Enterprise Act 2002

Section 134: Questions to be decided on market investigation references

310.This section sets out the questions that the CC must answer in the course of conducting a market investigation under Part 4.

311.Subsections (1)-(3): the CC is to consider what market or markets exist in connection with the supply or acquisition of the goods or services described in the reference (the 'relevant market(s)'), and then to determine whether any feature or combination of features of the relevant market(s), prevents, restricts or distorts competition in connection with the supply or acquisition of goods or services in the UK: where this is the case, there is an ‘adverse effect on competition’. Depending on the circumstances, more than one adverse effect on competition may be found (e.g. where there is more than one relevant market).

312.Subsection (4)-(5): where the CC identifies one or more adverse effects on competition, it must further decide what action should be taken to remedy, mitigate or prevent it or them, whether by the CC itself, or by others (including those operating in the market concerned, Ministers - who may, for example, be able to introduce changes to existing laws, so as to remove a regulatory barrier to entry - and other public authorities). The CC must also consider what action it or others should take to remedy, mitigate or prevent any ‘detrimental effects on customers’ (in the form of higher prices, lower quality or less choice of goods or services, or less innovation in relation to goods or services in any UK market) in so far as they have resulted from, or may be expected to result from, any adverse effect on competition that it has identified.

313.Subsection (6): in deciding what steps should be taken under subsection (4), the CC is to have regard to the need to achieve as comprehensive a remedy as is reasonable and practicable. Thus, all other things being equal, a remedy that, for example, removes an adverse effect on competition will be considered more comprehensive than one that only removes detrimental effects on customers resulting from that adverse effect, since by removing the adverse effect, the CC will also (at least so far as is within its power) remove the detrimental effect on customers. To that extent, there is a presumption in favour of remedial action that deals directly with adverse effects on competition over action that is directed specifically at detrimental effects on customers. The requirement to have regard to reasonableness and practicability means, inter alia, that the CC must, in relation to each proposed remedy, consider what effect it will have on the future conduct of those operating in the market, how it will interact with any other proposed remedies, and whether the adverse effect(s) or customer detriment(s) that it was designed to address are sufficiently serious for their removal or mitigation to justify whatever costs and disruption to businesses and others will be involved in the implementation of that remedy.

314.Subsections (7) and (8): in considering what steps should be taken under subsection (4) the CC may further have regard to any customer benefits (in the form of lower prices, or higher quality or greater choice of goods or services, or greater innovation in relation to goods or services in any UK market) arising from the relevant feature or features of the market that have given rise to adverse effects on competition, provided that the benefit has accrued, or may be expected to accrue within a reasonable time, and was or is unlikely to accrue without the feature or features concerned.

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