OFT view on the role of competition law complaints

Speech (19 pages, PDF) given by Philip Collins, Chairman of the OFT, to a law conference on Tuesday 1 May 2007.

Amongst other things, the speech addresses the fact that OFT only considers a very small proportion of the competition law complaints that it receives, and it often closes cases on administrative priority grounds:

There may be a perception in some quarters that there is now no point in bringing a complaint to the OFT. That view is misconceived. We still need, and expect, complaints. What is important, however, is that they are well formulated and set out clearly the case for OFT action, bearing in mind our prioritisation criteria. It may be particularly important, for instance, to go beyond the specific of the facts, circumstances and issues that are the subject of the complaint and explain why taking up the complaint is important in terms of, for instance, precedent value or potential impact in other markets. We will be looking to take action only where it is 'in the public interest'. The days of intervention into what were essentially commercial disputes between private parties are long gone. Businesses and their advisers must recognise that sea change, and must be willing to work with us accordingly.

Mr Collins also defends the OFT's approach of pursuing wide-ranging Enterprise Act 2002 studies instead of considering the specific complaints of competition law infringement brought to it, as it has done for Pfizer's exclusive distribution contract:

The market study mechanism will allow us to consider the impact of those changes in the round, rather than focusing purely on the subject of the original complaints. In our experience, the broader-based nature of such studies also tends to facilitate broader and better dialogue with market players and other interested parties, including Government. Together, these aspects provide us with high quality intelligence, and a solid basis upon which to consider appropriate forms of intervention – which may, of course, ultimately include taking action under the Competition Act.

For further information or advice please contact Franck Latrémolière.

Filed under OFT.

Reckon LLP is an economics consultancy with expertise in data analysis, economic regulation and competition law.

About Reckon