How we use our competition law powers, including what this means for firms, and how to report competition law infringements.
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We have powers to enforce UK competition law regarding the provision of financial services in the UK and the provision of claims management services in Great Britain.
Competition law forbids:
- cartels and other potentially anti-competitive agreements
- abuse of a dominant position
Examples of cartels include agreements to fix prices or share markets. Examples of other potentially anti-competitive agreements include a distributor agreeing with its supplier not to sell below a particular price.
Examples of abuse of a dominant position include a dominant business charging prices so low they do not cover the costs of the product or service sold, with the aim of driving out competitors and then increasing prices again. Or, refusing to supply an existing or long-standing customer without objective justification.
The competition law annex in the Fair and Effective Markets Review provides more information on the types of conduct forbidden under competition law and when a firm might hold a dominant position.
In the UK, these competition powers may also be used by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in all sectors of the economy, including financial services and claims management services.
This means that for financial services in the UK and claims management services in Great Britain, we and the CMA have ‘concurrent powers’, meaning we are a ‘concurrent regulator’. We and the CMA have entered into a memorandum of understanding on how we will work together in relation to competition law.
We have published guidance on how we use our competition powers: FG15/8 - FCA's powers and procedures under the Competition Act 1998.
Our concurrent competition powers are in addition to powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act (FSMA) that we can use in pursuit of our competition objective.
On 21 February 2019, we issued our first decision under competition law.
Duty to self-report
Regulated firms must bring their own actual and possible contraventions to our attention, under Principle 11 of the Principles for Businesses and rules in our Supervision manual. See our Policy Statement (PS15/18).
Approved persons must deal with us, the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and other regulators in an open and cooperative way. They must also disclose any information that we or the PRA would reasonably expect to receive notice of. This is under Principle 4 of the Statements of Principle.
In addition, senior conduct rules staff members (as defined in our Handbook glossary) have a duty under COCON Senior manager conduct Rule 3 to disclose any information that we or the PRA would reasonably expect to receive notice of.
Under leniency arrangements, those who have participated in cartel activity can choose to give detailed confessions of their infringements in return for significant reductions or complete immunity from penalties for that infringement.
Leniency applications shall be made directly to the CMA. The CMA will then coordinate with us in relation to all applications made in financial services and claims management.
Report competition law infringements
We welcome information from industry participants, representative groups and the public about practices or conduct that may infringe competition law.
To open an investigation under the Competition Act 1998 (CA98) we need to decide whether:
- there are reasonable grounds to suspect an infringement of CA98, and
- it's appropriate to allocate resources to a case
When you make a report, we will review your complaint and decide whether to open an investigation. This decision will be based on the prioritisation principles set out in our guidance. We will then let you know our decision.
All information we receive will be handled in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018, UK General Data Protection Regulation 2021, and other legislation designed to protect individual privacy and commercial confidentiality.
18/03/2019: Link changed Updated Bank of England FEMR links