The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is a non-ministerial Government department that promotes competition for the benefit of consumers. The CMA have taken the following actions during the outbreak:
Excessive pricing and other harmful practices:
In their statement of 5th March, the CMA urged retailers to behave responsibly and would consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law.
Following on from this the CMA has set up a taskforce to tackle, within its remit, negative economic and consumer impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic. The taskforce is looking at how the CMA can use its powers in consumer protection and competition law to stop firms exploiting the situation. The taskforce will:
- Scrutinise market developments to identify harmful sales and pricing practices as they emerge.
- Warn firms suspected of exploiting these exceptional circumstances and people’s vulnerability - through unjustifiable prices or misleading claims.
- Take enforcement action if there is evidence that firms may have breached competition or consumer protection law and they fail to respond to warnings.
You can use the following reporting form to report any unfair business practices to the CMA: https://www.coronavirus-business-complaint.service.gov.uk/
Ensuring the supply of goods and services:
The taskforce is also working to ensure that competition law does not stand in the way of businesses trying to do the right thing to protect consumers.
On 25th March, the CMA issued new guidance for businesses, setting out in detail the CMA’s approach to business co-operation at the current time. This guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cma-approach-to-business-cooperation-in-response-to-covid-19