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01/07/24

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act 2024

Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act 2024
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The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act 2024 (‘the Act’) provides for the regulation of competition in digital markets.

Under this Act, companies and individuals may be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority (‘the CMA’) for various reasons. These include amongst other things, monopolistic behaviours such as price-fixing or colluding to hinder competition, as well as consumer protection violations like misleading advertising or engaging in unfair trading practices.

It amends the Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002 and makes other provisions affecting competition law, the protection of consumer rights and other connected matters.

According to a government press release, the Act is intended to "eliminate unfair practices and encourage competition in digital markets."

Amongst its far-ranging functions the Act, amongst other things:

  • confers functions on the CMA to regulate competition in digital markets,
  • makes provision for the designation of undertakings as having strategic market status in respect of digital activity,
  • provides for the CMA to be able to impose conduct requirements on a designated undertaking,
  • provides for the CMA to take steps to promote competition where it considers that activities of a designated undertaking are having an adverse effect on competition.

Failure to comply with the strict requirements of the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act may result in the imposition of civil and criminal penalties.
John Veale of KANGS outlines those offences.

Civil Offences | CMA

Section 85 Penalties for failure to comply with competition requirements

The Competition and Markets Authority may impose a penalty on an undertaking where it considers that, without reasonable excuse, it has failed to comply with a requirement imposed by virtue of:

  • an enforcement order,
  • a final offer order,
  • a pro-competition order,
  • the need to comply with a commitment.

Section 87 Penalties for failure to comply with investigative requirements

The CMA may impose a penalty on a person who, without reasonable excuse has:

  • failed to comply with an imposed requirement,
  • given information which is false or misleading in a material particular in connection with any function of the CMA or
  • given information which is false or misleading in a material particular to another person knowing that it was to be used for the purpose of giving information to the CMA with any function of the CMA.

The CMA may impose a penalty on an individual named as a senior manager as well as on the undertaking naming the individual where:

  • the CMA considers that the individual has failed, without reasonable excuse, to prevent a failure or an action by the undertaking of the nature listed above,
  • the failure or action relates to an information notice in response to which the individual was named as a senior manager.

The CMA may impose a penalty on an individual who is appointed by an undertaking to be a nominated officer in relation to a digital market requirement, as well as on the undertaking that appoints that individual, where the CMA considers that the individual has failed, without reasonable excuse, to prevent the undertaking to comply with a digital markets’ requirement.

The CMA may impose a penalty on an individual where it considers that such person has, without reasonable excuse, obstructed an officer of the CMA acting in the course of his powers.

Criminal Offences

Section 93 Destroying or falsifying Information

A person commits an offence if, having been required to give information to the CMA or any other person:

  • intentionally or recklessly destroys or otherwise disposes of it, falsifies it or conceals it, or
  • causes or permits its destruction, disposal, falsification or concealment.

Section 94 False or misleading information

A person commits an offence when knowingly, or recklessly, provides false or misleading information:

  • to the CMA in connection with any of the CMA’s digital markets functions,
  • to another person knowing that the information will be given to the CMA in connection with any of its digital markets’ functions.

Section 95 Obstructing an Officer

A person commits an offence if that person intentionally obstructs an officer of the CMA acting in the exercise of the officer’s powers under:

  • section 74 -power to enter business premises without a warrant
  • section 75- power to enter premises with a warrant.

Section 96 Offences by officers of a body corporate etc.

If any of the offences shown above is proven to have been committed by a body corporate:

  • with the consent or connivance of one of its officers or
  • attributable to neglect on the part of one of its officers

both the body corporate and the officer are guilty of the offence.

Section 99 Director disqualification

The Act makes provision for director disqualification in the event of an offence by an individual.

Sentencing upon Conviction

A person guilty of any of the offences set out above is liable:

  • to a fine; or
  • before a Crown Court, to a fine, imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.

How Can We Assist?

The penalties which may be imposed in the event of default under the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Act may be severe for both corporate bodies and individuals, including disqualification from acting a company director, as referred to above.

Should you be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority for any alleged breaches under the Act, it is essential that you seek immediate legal representation.

The Act makes provision for an individual to request a review of any Tribunal decision which may have been made, but this is subject to strict time limits and, because of the complexities attached, requires experienced legal consideration.

If we can be of assistance, the Team at KANGS will be delighted to hear from you.

Tel:       0333 370 4333

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

We provide initial no obligation discussion at our three offices in London, Birmingham, and Manchester. Alternatively, discussions can be held through live conferencing or telephone.

Hamraj Kang

Hamraj Kang
Senior Partner

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Tim Thompson

Tim Thompson
Partner

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John Veale

John Veale
Partner

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