On 19 November 2012, the OFT appointed Lee Craddock, a former police officer and case manager at the Serious Fraud Office, as Director of Investigations and Criminal Enforcement.  His appointment follows the disastrous handling of the criminal price fixing case against British Airways (BA) executives in 2010, one of only two prosecutions of the cartel…

Right now, the leitmotif in the competition world is the anger of the ordinary citizen. You thought this was an arena dominated by sober minded analysts, regulators and business executives? Think again. Take, for instance, the investigation into Britain’s retail road fuel industry – worth about £32bn – currently being conducted by the UK’s Office…

In early July this year, the UK’s specialist competition court, the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”), adopted a judgment (“Judgment”) in which it awarded a claimant (2 Travel) exemplary damages in relation to predatory pricing abuses engaged in by its dominant rival, Cardiff Bus.1)2 Travel Group PLC (in liquidation) v Cardiff City Transport Services Limited {2012}…

The Office of Fair Trading’s (“OFT”) long-running Dairy investigation has been plagued by controversies right from the outset.  Allegations have been made by the OFT and subsequently withdrawn, the scope of the investigation has been progressively narrowed and the OFT has even had to pay Morrisons £100,000 to settle a libel claim.   Against this backdrop,…

In 2007, the European Commission prohibited Ryanair’s attempted hostile bid to acquire rival Irish airline, Aer Lingus. It also refused to order Ryanair to divest its 29.8% stake in Aer Lingus, which it had built up during its aborted public bid. The General Court later upheld both the prohibition of the merger and the refusal to require divestment of the minority shareholding. Subsequently, the UK Office of Fair Trading investigated Ryanair’s minority shareholding in Aer Lingus; Ryanair’s challenges to the OFT’s jurisdiction were rejected by both the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal. On 1 June the Supreme Court refused Ryanair leave to appeal, thus confirming the OFT’s ability to investigate the transaction, which it referred to the Competition Commission on 15 June. However, immediately thereafter, Ryanair launched a third hostile bid to acquire Aer Lingus, leading to further litigation before the CAT to challenge the Competition Commission’s jurisdiction.
This blog post examines the complex interaction of European Commission and national authority jurisdiction to examine different transactions involving the same parties, as well as the OFT’s reasons for referring Ryanair’s minority shareholding to the Competition Commission.

The Competition Appeal Tribunal has upheld the Competition Commission’s decision to require Stericycle to divest the entirety of Ecowaste Southwest following its prohibition of the completed merger. In dismissing Stericycle’s appeal, the Tribunal confirmed that the Commission is not obliged to identify of its own motion all possible remedies, but merely those that would clearly resolve the harm to competition caused by the merger. It also held that, in a completed merger, the purchaser takes the risk of being required to divest the entire business acquired by it, if this is necessary to restore effective competition.

A recent CC decision, Stericycle/Ecowaste Southwest, in which it prohibited a completed merger and required the divestment of the acquired business, is a salutary reminder to companies that do not wait for merger clearance before completing their transaction.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall and the sounds of the crash get louder as the legal controls get weaker. Take, for instance, the recent £807.2m sale of Edinburgh airport to Global Infrastructure Partners. This is the latest disposal following the original recommendation by the UK Competition Commission (CC) that BAA’s airport operating…

On 15 March 2012, almost exactly a year after it launched its consultation concerning possible reforms to the UK competition regime, the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (“BIS”) announced the changes that it had decided to implement, with the intention of developing and improving the competition regime in the UK. There will…