By John Fingleton
CEO, Office of Fair Trading
20 January 2009
While recent years have witnessed growing public
confidence in the ability of competitive markets to deliver positive
outcomes, the credit crunch and the recession have shocked markets,
policy-makers and the general public and risk damaging that confidence.
Recession is potentially hostile towards competition
policy: the less visible and less immediate costs of restricting
competition can look more attractive to policy-makers faced with
a range of unpalatable options. Policies to relax competition
in the US in the 1930s and in Japan in the 1990s arguably added
to the duration of recession in both countries. Learning from
history and the robust economic evidence linking competition to
productivity growth, we need to ensure that today's solutions
do not inadvertently become tomorrow's problems.
It is essential that the causes of the credit
crunch are properly diagnosed so that the policy response is targeted
"micro-surgery" rather than drastic amputation. If we
mistake regulatory failure for market failure, we risk undermining
the source of much of the wealth creation that came from the opening
of markets to competition.
Intervention to rescue the financial system
from systemic collapse in exceptional circumstances can be crucial,
but should not be seen as a reason to suspend the importance of
competition in other sectors, either via State aid, anti-competitive
mergers or cartels.
Subsidies are rarely ideal: they are costly
for the taxpayer, can prop-up less efficient firms, create dependency,
and ultimately damage competitive incentives. Restrictions on
competition are worse. In addition to higher consumer prices and
the inefficiency, they are less transparent and can result in
permanent changes to market structure. Ad hoc changes to the competition
rules can also remove consistency and predictability for business,
with additional harm to efficiency. Naturally, incumbent business
will rarely object to subsidies or restrictions on competition.
The OFTand other competition agenciesneed
to be able to respond quickly to changing priorities, and display
a degree of pragmatism in recognising times when other policy
interests may over-ride competition policy. At the same time,
our role as advocates of competition, within government, with
fair-dealing businesses and beyond has never been more important;
supporting governments in tackling powerful private vested interests
whose solutions would cost us dearly well into the future.
Have we reached a turning point?
We have witnessed a decade or more in which
there has been growing and wider confidence in the ability of
competitive markets to deliver positive outcomes for consumers
and the economy alike. In an era of macroeconomic stability and
growth, and high employment in many countries, the deregulation,
privatisation, opening and deeper international integration of
markets has thrived against the background of evidence that competition
is a key driver of productivity growth and wealth creation.
Competition, and policy to support it, have thrived in this environment.
Competition advocacy against disproportionate state restrictions
on competition grew. The openness of international trade and the
opportunities to compete in wider geographic markets has lessened
traditional arguments about competition policy standing in the
way of "necessary" national champions. Governments have
opened more markets to foreign investment and ownership, including
key strategic industries that had once been nationalised, although
many limits clearly remain. Greater appreciation of the importance
to business, and thus to consumers and economic growth, of stable
and predictable policy towards mergers supported an increasing
reliance on politically independent agencies applying a competition
Recently, two things have happened. First, many
leading economies have slowed down or entered recession. Second,
the "credit-crunch" has shocked markets, policy-makers
and the general public. Recession increases public pressure on
politicians to intervene to deal with failing firms, unemployment
and consumer vulnerability. The credit-crunch, aside from its
impact on the real economy, alters public confidence as between
markets or state intervention to deliver good outcomes. Greater
demand for public intervention in markets has resulted.
Reduced support for competition?
A recession has the potential to be inimical
to competition, and policy to support it, for several reasons.
First, competition delivers its best market outcomes when it drives
improved efficiency, and this takes time. Second, it does this
in part by enabling new entry of efficient firms and driving the
exit of inefficient firms. Third, competitive, and especially
innovative, markets often produce better value for consumers alongside
more uncertainty around price, quality, range or service.
In a recession, the short-run may be prioritised;
the exit of failing firms may be perceived to be more costly for
society, especially if concentrated in a local area; and tolerance
for uncertainty among consumers may reduce. Or, put another way,
the immediate costs of competition to existing business, employees
and consumers may be up-front and visible, with the benefits delayed
and less visible. Tolerance for this will be lower in a recession.
The airline sector in Europe illustrates all
three features. The initial liberalisation delivered substantial
benefits to consumers and the economy, albeit with more variation
in consumer experience.
More efficient new entrants created incentives for incumbents
to be more efficient. There was greater tolerance (in the EU)
towards allowing failure (for example, Sabena post 9/11) and to
opening markets to foreign entry and even foreign ownership of
traditional flag carriers. While the initial liberalisation was
slow to achieve tangible effects, there has been widespread public
support for the benefits. Notwithstanding, many countries retain
protectionist ownership rules for airlines and restrict competition
in airport and landing slots in ways that continue to limit competition.
Positive outcomes such as this might easily be forgotten in times
The credit-crunch raises a more general risk
that the emphasis on open, competitive markets and the benefits
that they deliver is reduced or even lost as part of an over-regulatory
response. The suspension of the competition rules by the Roosevelt
administration in 1933 is argued to have added to the duration
of the Great Depression, and government intervention to restrict
competition in "structurally depressed industries" prolonged
the Japanese recession in the 1990s.
On top of the clear evidence that competition contributes positively
to productivity growth and competitiveness, these episodes should
serve as a warning against the attractive sirens of reduced competition.
It is important that the cause of the credit
crunch is properly diagnosed so that the policy response is targeted
micro-surgery to address this cause rather than crude amputation
as a reaction to the symptoms. If we mistake regulatory failure
for market failure, we risk undermining the source of much of
the wealth creation that came from the opening of such markets
to competition. Regrettably, market failure has become a mantra
recited whenever economic outcomes do not accord with what a well-organised
group of producers want.
The cumulative effect of the recession and credit
crunch is that we see more distressed businesses, including banks,
turning to government for assistance at exactly the time when
support for public intervention is growing.
Responding to the crisis
A recession can facilitate strong growth in
long term productivity. Unlike a boom, when inefficient players
may survive and even grow, an economic downturn will tend to drive
out the less efficient market players. This process of creative
destruction leaves a stronger and more efficient supply base,
thus driving innovation and productivity growth in the next period
of expansion. This is a reason why competition agencies should
apply a rigorous failing-firm "defence", especially
in a downturn. And it is a reason why governments should be very
careful about propping-up ailing firms via State aid or other
The fact that banks are fundamentally different
from other businesses may exceptionally justify intervention.
Bank failure risks contagion effects (ie, the failure of one bank
may lead to a run on others, as opposed to other sectors where
the removal of one player would normally be in competitors' interests).
The collapse of confidence in turn caused liquidity to disappear,
and thus removed an essential lubricant for the banking system
to function and brought us close to systemic collapse. In this
sense, the credit crunch resulted from an exceptional implosion
of supply, and not simply a cost increase or a contraction of
The state of the financial sector points to
a further rationale for intervention. If the credit market has
ceased to function effectively, then firms that struggle could
be those whose re-financing is due earlier or which lack a broader
conglomerate base, and not those who are least efficient. Put
another way, banks or other providers of finance normally play
a crucial role in sorting out the efficient from inefficient players:
with rationed credit, they may cease to perform this vital function.
In this case, efficiency and productivity growth could suffer
Government intervention to get banks lending
to business on a vigorously competitive commercial basis would
enable banks to resume their critical function for the economy
as a whole. This would be far better than directing government
State aid to failing-firms or their (non) customers.
Aside from measures to restore competitive and
effective banking, there are two ways in which governments can
respond to companies in distress: they can give them money directly
via State aid, or grant them monopoly profit by allowing anti-competitive
mergers. Either way the citizen pays; as taxpayer and/or as consumer
through higher prices. In all cases, efficiency and competition
are harmed, often with long-term consequences.
The risks with State aid are clear: if the government
lacks the expertise and knowledge to sort out efficient from inefficient
players, then it may just end up rescuing inefficient firms. A
policy that is open to arguments for State aids additionally creates
incentives for wasteful rent-seeking
activity (businesses seeking profits through manipulation of the
economic and/or legal environment rather than trade and wealth
production). For these reasons, the EU competition framework uses
State aid control to prevent harmful interventions, and independent
merger control to prevent mergers that restrict competition.
If it is, exceptionally, necessary for the government
to intervene (as in the case of banking outlined above), State
aid might be preferred to allowing an anti-competitive merger:
State aid may have an immediate effect,
whereas monopoly profits may not flow immediately.
It may be that State aid can be limited
in duration (and indeed there may be political mileage in so doing).
However, State aid may be extremely difficult to remove because
of rent-seeking behaviour by powerful vested interests, as subsidising
agriculture in the EU and US demonstrate.
State aid may be tied to specific policy
objectives, such as restructuring, whereas an anti-competitive
merger hands a licence to charge monopoly prices with no conditions
attached. However, absent clear and measurable incentives, State
aid could have the same negative effect on efficiency as anti-competitive
On the other hand, State aid that is
not applied on an equitable basis can further distort competition
by creating an uneven playing field. In contrast, an anti-competitive
merger will likely benefit rivals because it lessens competition
for all players in the market.
These arguments are compelling in the framework of
State Aid in the EU, which specifically requires that aid be specific
and constrained, transparent in application, time-bound, and with
a clear rationale. The EU framework pays close attention to the
distortionary effect on the market (ie, prevents beggar-thy-neighbour
approaches) and thereby supports open markets and a level playing
Some may argue for allowing an anti-competitive
merger over State aid because it would give rise to synergies:
this argument should be treated with the caution normally given
to claims about efficiencies made by merging parties, especially
in the light of evidence that market power leads to less, not
more, efficiency inside firms.
Overall, subsidies harm competition and the
consumer and, unless very carefully structured and time-limited,
may do as much harm as anti-competitive mergers. The need for
intervention to prevent systemic collapse in banking in exceptional
circumstances should not cause us to set aside the competitive
framework which, in preventing both distortionary State aid and
anti-competitive mergers, provides an essential part of the foundation
for long-term productivity growth.
Restrictions on competition
I have spoken above about mergers, but the argument
applies equally to other forms of anti-competitive agreement.
Not all agreements between competitors are harmful to competition
and competition law clearly allows collaboration and competitor
agreements that are beneficial to efficiency and long-run consumer
Concerns may arise, however, over certain types
of "voluntary" agreements among competitors that are
put forward by government or its agencies as a means to achieve
laudable and important health, environmental or other policy objectives.
The difficulty of changing consumer behaviour directlycurrently
a hugely attractive policy goal in many areasmakes it very
attractive to do so indirectly by asking, for example, retailers
or manufacturers to agree voluntarily not to supply certain "bads"
(for example, fat, salt, incandescent light bulbs) or to raise
prices (for example, plastic bags).
Although the long-term impact of such agreements
may appear to be less than that of a merger (because they do not
alter market structure) their effect may be more costly in other
ways, such as weakening competitive incentives in those markets
and undermining compliance with competition law in other markets
by sending mixed signals to business as to what is permitted and
what is prohibited.
When it comes to market failure, two wrongs
do not make a right: creating a second market failure by restricting
competition is not a sound policy response to a market problem
that is due to information failure.
The highly costly and ineffective use of barriers to entry in
markets such as taxis and pharmacies to "correct" informational
market failures also illustrates this point, and our economies
are still riddled with the long-term legacy of such flawed policy
There are several reasons why restrictions on
competition may be chosen even though they are more costly to
society than alternatives. First, the costs are generally less
visible and less immediate; this combined with generally low levels
of transparency means accountability for them can also be unclear.
Moreover, the persistence and nature (for example, X-inefficiency
and rent-seeking) of the costs are likely to be underestimated.
Second, such policy-making rightly relies on a close-working relationship
with business and, more generally, the business voice (especially
in a particular sector) is louder and more focused than that of
consumers. Many businesses will likely prefer less competition.
In contrast, alternative instruments such as regulation and taxation
tend to involve more visible, up-front costs and a greater degree
of transparency. The move to better (that is, less) regulation
and the pressure on consumer budgets from higher food and energy
prices during 2008 made regulation and taxation less attractive
as policy responses.
The case for a consistent framework
Perhaps the most compelling reason for favouring
other instruments to deal with the recession and credit-crunch
is the potential cost in terms of deterrence and compliance.
Setting clear and consistent rules for business (and if possible
also for policy makers) creates a predictable environment for
investment. When combined with strong competition, such investment
brings and innovation and results in long term benefits for consumers
and productivity growth.
This applies equally to private and public decision-making.
In essence, our aim should be to support mergers and policy measures
that increase efficiency and consumer welfare without increasing
market power. In doing so, we should avoid unnecessary train-crashes
that arise because the chosen track proves to be a siding.
Consider, for example, merger policy as an example
of private decision-making. At the outset, a company may have
several alternatives in terms of merger, takeover, etc., involving
different potential partners. However, the company will generally
need at an early stage to select one of these for development
and implementation. When companies know the merger rules, the
project that they develop will be one that keeps within (or perhaps
on the edge) of the rules. This minimises two costs: first the
risk that the deal falls foul of the rules and gets blocked, and
second the risk of choosing safer but less efficient deals. Such
an approach has substantial cost-savings for the economy, both
in avoiding big failures, the waste of resources and time, and
in lower risk for the companies involved. In a failing-firm situation,
the initial choice is particularly crucial because the company
is unlikely to have time for alternatives.
The public sector analogy might be a proposal
to achieve a policy objective with public benefits (for example,
raising the price or restricting the supply of an environmentally
harmful product). Here the alternatives centre on the policy instruments
available (for example, taxation, regulation). The policy-maker
must outline the net benefits to be obtained and work out the
most effective instrument. Just as an anti-competitive merger
may be a company's preferred alternative because it ignores the
wider social costs of the market power (resulting from a behavioural
or structural measure which generates anti-competitive effects)
it may also be the policy-maker's first choice because the long-term
impacts of reduced competition are less visible than the immediate
costs of other instruments. In the policy-making context, the
costs associated with favouring the more socially costly instrument
at an early stage are also high. If the proposal does not go ahead,
there is the waste of time and effort, and possibly damage to
support for an alterative approach. If the measure is implemented,
it can result in substantial and often persistent harm to consumers
and society that could have been avoided by a less restrictive
Two features of UK competition policy incentivise
consistent decision-making that improves welfare. On the merger
side, decisions are taken by independent and accountable agencies
(the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission) using
a competition test.
Guidance, reasoned decisions, speeches and meetings with business
and its advisers serve to increase consistency and predictability,
thereby assisting business in their investment planning. The combination
of not regularly being faced with substantial anti-competitive
transactions and regular and significant use of remedies suggests
that the UK system increasingly minimises the costs and risks
On the policy side, there are several measures
in place to ensure that policy-makers take account of the implications
and costs of their decisions on competition and the competitive
process. All new policy proposals must be supported by an Impact
Assessment, which explicitly takes account of possible competition
effects. The OFT supports that framework and co-chairs a cross-Whitehall
The OFT's Advocacy Unit works more closely with individual government
departments and on specific issues to advise on the costs and
develop alternatives that are less-restrictive of competition.
Our experience is that early engagement is most helpful. In addition,
enable the OFT to examine existing restrictions and to make recommendations
to government: the government commits to respond within 90 days,
or to refer the market to the Competition Commission. The ability
of consumer organisations to make a Super-Complaint is the most
innovative of a range of measures to ensure that the consumer
voice is better represented. Some of these features are unique
to the UK system.
So what should agencies do?
So what are the lessons for the OFT and our
counterparts around the world?
Flexibility and prioritisation
First, agencies need to be both pragmatic and
flexible in their application of competition policy. I favour
a "Goldilocks" approach to flexibility: it needs to
be just right; if too inflexible, we may cause wider harm to the
economy in the short-term; if too flexible, we may cause greater
long-term harm by undermining investment, incentives and innovation.
This is not about moving away from the core aim of making markets
work well for society, or weakening our enforcement stance, but
simply recognising that, in crisis and recession, the types and
areas of intervention that best achieve this may change.
The OFT's prioritisation principles reflect
the balance described in the preceding paragraph.
There are eight principles grouped under the headings of impact,
strategic significance, risk and resources. The principles are
not applied in a mechanistic way: they focus our efforts and resources
on deterring and influencing behaviour that poses the greatest
threat to consumer welfare, and intervening in order to protect
long-run consumer welfare and, in the process, drive higher productivity
growth. They also demonstrate that we recognise the need to avoid
imposing unnecessary burdens on business. In a similar vein, our
annual plan consultation
explicitly builds in our desire to have greater flexibility to
ensure our resources are deployed in the way that best furthers
the OFT's mission of making markets work well for consumers.
In terms of individual issues, agencies will
need to be creative and engaged at the outset. All too often,
restrictions on competition result not so much from malign intent
as from a lack of awareness of the full costs and imaginative
alternatives, especially early in the process. Here it will be
particularly important to ensure that other frameworks (for example,
industrial policy, financial services policy) harness strong competition
to deliver their objectives. At the same time, we must recognise
that there will be situations where competition in the market
may not be the answer. Our existing competition framework and
our application of it already does this well.
What is important here is that these costs,
especially the longer-term ones, are fully included in the decision-making
process. If, having weighed up all the pros and cons, a restriction
on competition is considered necessary, then we should attempt
to be creative in terms of narrowing its scope and, if possible,
Second, agencies will need, individually and
collectively, more than ever to engage in competition advocacy.
The OFT already engages in a great deal of advocacy on individual
issues, and I suspect we will need to do more. But we will also
need to engage in "framework advocacy", that is, for
the competition framework. In many countries, competition authorities
have a statutory role in advising government on the effects of
restrictions on competition: a feature generally designed to help
counter-balance the power of strong producer vested interests
that lobby for less competition.
It is our role, and duty, to repeatedly emphasise
the importance for long-term business investment and decision-making
of a consistent and clear framework of competition and consumer
enforcement. When the current recession is over, the UK and the
EU will face even stronger competition from growing economies
such as China, India, Russia, South Africa and Brazil. Restrictions
on competition would represent a long-term drag on the economy
in the future. Similarly, the UK has had an enormous influence
on the development of a policy of open markets, challenging protectionism,
and leading best practice in the EU and beyond in the past decade.
We should not lightly ignore the potential long-term cost to our
future welfare of any diminished leadership, especially at a time
when key international standards in this area are being determined.
Another aspect of this is that, in a recession,
agencies will often face a difficult trade-off between doing work
that addresses "real" harm (washing dirty laundry) and
addressing issues that raise huge public concerns but where there
is not a competition problem, or not an intervention that could
make things better (washing clean laundry that looks dirty). Agencies
should not underestimate the broader value of the latter in terms
of public confidence in market outcomes, and this value may be
much higher now (in a more mature competition regime and in light
of the current financial climate) than it was in recent years.
The UK competition regime, and in particular market studies and
market investigation instruments, can and should be used to build
public confidence in markets, not just by solving problems but
also by ensuring and demonstrating that markets are publicly accountable.
Recent market studies and market investigation references in markets
such as groceries
have provided an independent review of the evidence and usefully
set aside concerns that weak competition was a problem in these
Furthermore, it may not be enough to advocate
competition without putting forward suggestions for how to deal
with the side-effects. We need to practice smart medicine. For
example, often markets work well, but have adverse distributional
consequences. Should competition agencies advise governments on
the magnitude of these effects so as to assist wider government
policy on equity?
Vigilance and coherence
Third, agencies need to think about how they
work, and understanding and anticipating what is happening across
the economy. The OFT's recent study on sale and rent-back is a
good example of responding quickly to a new and potentially very
harmful form of exploiting financially distressed home-owners.
We must also be equipped to deal with more failing-firm mergers;
for this reason, the OFT recently restated its approach to these
issues whilst announcing that it will offer informal advice to
parties in appropriate cases that involve potential failing-firm
Other areas are less immediately obvious, but
nonetheless could be important. For example, we may see greater
temptation to cartelise markets with rising competition between
existing suppliers for a shrinking demand. The UK's criminal and
civil cartel law should have a powerful deterrent effect. It is
important that we are vigilant to the potential rise of cartels
in a recession, and have the resources to respond to a rise in
immunity applications. In this regard, achieving early resolution
of cases may be a useful way to increase efficiency, and free
up resources to address other issues.
All this also requires good communication and
co-ordination within government, across business and consumer
stakeholders, and across international partners. Working with
international partners is key not just to ensuring that our responses
to the crisis and recession build on best practice and are co-ordinated,
but more so that long-term business investment can be based on
a consistent international approach.
It is widely accepted that open and competitive
markets deliver benefits. The existence of competition law and
policy recognises public intervention is necessary to support
strong competition and resist the market failure that arises from
monopoly, cartels and other restrictions. The legal framework
in the UK is relatively new, but is based heavily on both the
EU (more in terms of the formal law) and US systems (more in terms
of methodology and enforcement tools).
The competition frameworks in both those jurisdictions
have stood the test of time very well, and dealt with hugely varying
economic conditions on both sides of the Atlantic. We can see
clearly the benefits brought, and the costs inflicted, when not
applied. The example of airlines in Europe illustrates the former;
the example of delayed recovery from the depression in the 1930s
Both regimes have demonstrated an ability to
balance the flexibility to deal with changing economic conditions
alongside the need for a stable and consistent approach to foster
long-term investment. The priority for competition agencies should
be to continue to demonstrate the benefits of that framework,
and to do so consistently internationally so that our economies
are poised to grow on the back of strong competition and open
markets, delivering better outcomes for consumers and societies.
59 This paper is based on a speech given on 3 December
2008 at the Annual Charles River Associates Conference in
Brussels, in a panel on "Competition Policy in Troubled Times".
I am grateful to colleagues at OFT and Akira Goto, David Lewis,
and John Vickers for comments. Back
The 2001 White Paper, "Productivity and Enterprise:
a World Class Competition Regime" which preceded the UK Enterprise
Act 2002 set out the evidence at that time (available at
This evidence was influential internationally: see, for example,
the Australian Productivity Commission's Review of National Competition
Policy Reforms Inquiry Report, April 2005, available at
For more recent evidence, see Productivity and Competition: an
OFT perspective on the productivity debate, January 2007, OFT
887 and our evaluation work programme, available at www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/resource_base/evaluation/publications. Back
Standardising, even non-price factors, can inhibit competition,
see, for example, Response to the super-complaint on credit card
interest rate calculation methods by Which? 26 June 2007,
OFT935, available at
Much of this (online sales, more destinations, etc) was for the
good. Some of it has required enforcement action under consumer
law. See, for example, press release 118/07
"OFT takes action against 13 airlines over misleading
holiday pricing", 9 August 2007. Back
For the US, see Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian, 2004. "New
Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General
Equilibrium Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University
of Chicago Press, vol. 112(4), pages 779-816, August. See also
"The battle of Smoot-Hawley" (Economist, 18 December
2008) on the negative impact of protectionist tariff raising.
On Japan, see Hayashi and Prescott, "The 1990s in Japan:
A lost decade", Review of Economic Dynamics, 2002; Porter,
Can Japan Compete? Macmillan Press 2000, pp 2-3 and
Chapter 4; Porter and Sakakibara, "Competition in Japan"
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Volume 18, number 1, 2004 p.47;
Bill Emmott Rivals Chapter 8,: How the struggle between
China, India and Japan will shape our next decade, Penguin
2008; "What Ails Japan" (Economist, 20 April
See John Vickers, "The Financial Crisis and Competition Policy:
Some Economics", Global Competition Policy (www.globalcompetitionpolicy.org,
15 December 2008). Back
Rent-seeking occurs when companies seek to profit through lobbing
or other activity to change the regulatory and legal environment
than through trade and wealth creation. See Tullock, Gordon (1967).
"The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies, and Theft".
Western Economic Journal. See also R. A. Posner, (1975)
"The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation", Journal
of Political Economy. Back
"X-efficiency", see footnote 11 below. Back
The same is true for externalities, which is relevant to policies
addressing environmental issues. Back
"X-efficiency" is the effectiveness with which a company
converts inputs to outputs. Firms facing competitive pressure
are less likely to be inefficient. See Leibenstein, Harvey. "Allocative
Efficiency versus X-efficiency" American Economic Review,
June 1966, 56(3), pp. 392-415. Back
For an examination of the importance of deterrence effect see,
The Deterrent Effect of Competition Enforcement by the OFT, A
report prepared for the OFT by Deloitte, OFT 962, November 2007. Back
If firms are restricted to considering mergers that are consumer
welfare enhancing, or at least not detrimental, they will choose
the one that is most profitable from amongst those that do not
harm consumers. This profit-maximising behaviour against a consumer
harm constraint is likely to be better for total welfare. See
M Armstrong and J Vickers, "A Model of Delegated Project
Choice" http://else.econ.ucl.ac.uk/papers/uploaded/268.pdf. Back
Efficiencies may be taken into consideration alongside certain
anti-competitive effects. However, it should be noted that this
is a necessarily high but not insurmountable evidentiary standard
(see completed acquisition by Global Radio UK Limited of GCap
Media plc ME/3638/08, 27 August 2008). Back
In 2007 the OECD published a "Competition Assessment
Toolkit" that provides a methodology for identifying unnecessary
restraints of competition in existing and draft laws and regulations,
while at the same time developing policies that are less restrictive
of competition. www.oecd.org/dataoecd/15/59/39679833.pdf. Back
See The OFT's Market Studies, Beesley Lectures on Regulation
Series XVIII 2008 available at www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/speeches/spe0908a.pdf. Back
OFT Prioritisation Principles, OFT 953, October 2008 available
Annual Plan 2009-10, An OFT Consultation, OFT 1036con, November
2008 available at www.oft.gov.uk/about/what/annual/. Back
See page 31 of speech, The OFT's Market Studies (the Beesley
Lectures) Lectures on Regulation Series XVIII 2008 available
at www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/speeches/spe0908a.pdf. Back
Market Investigation into the Supply of Groceries in the UK, available
Homebuilding in the UK available at www.oft.gov.uk/advice_and_resources/resource_base/market-studies/current/home1. Back
Available at www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/reports/consumer_protection/oft1018.pdf. Back
Restatement of OFT's position regarding acquisitions of "failing
firms", 18 December 2008, OFT1047, available at www.oft.gov.uk/news/press/2008/146-08. Back