The CMA is able to investigate markets as whole and has powers to impose extensive changes if competition is not found to be working effectively.
Many companies involved in these inquiries find the process much more challenging than they first expect. Understanding how an investigation proceeds and what the requirements and pitfalls are can pay real dividends early on.
Among the challenges that companies face include:
- Establishing systems to access, marshall and deploy at speed the wide range of business documents required
- Coming to a well-evidenced collective internal view on how competition has worked in the past and what might make it work better
- Maintaining consistency between the different streams of work that are required and between the arguments being advanced
- Looking beyond the company itself in order to comment effectively on the market as a whole
- Engaging the most senior executives sufficiently early in all stages of the inquiry.
I have been closely involved in most of the recent market inquiries in the UK. My client work in this area has included:
- Acting as lead economic adviser
- Advising on how the market inquiry process works
- Coaching a senior team on how to engage effectively with a competition agency
- Board-level briefings on how the CMA views competition and regulation within a market inquiry
- Advising on priorities for analysis and on which economics advisers may have the capabilities required
- Running workshops to establish thinking and identify evidence to bring to bear to respond to the CMA’s ‘theories of harm’
- Analysis on key topics raised by the inquiry, including how the UK competition agencies have approached the topics in previous investigations
- Specific roles to challenge Groupthink and anticipate the challenges that the CMA may raise to particular arguments and evidence
- Helping companies rehearse for their key hearings with the competition authority, including questioning senior executives as a member of a simulated hearing panel.