Radical new UK regulatory regime proposed for big tech

On 20 July 2021, the UK government announced a consultation, titled “A new pro-competition regime for digital markets” (the Consultation), which proposes a number of radical changes that would introduce a new regulatory regime applying to the largest digital platforms operating in the UK.

The proposals include formally establishing a Digital Markets Unit (DMU) within the Competition and Markets Authority, and the introduction of a new regime by which the DMU would designate digital firms with strong and entrenched market power as holding strategic market status.

Read our latest client alert to find out more.

 

What do businesses need to know about proposed changes to UK competition and consumer laws?

On 20 July 2021 the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) published a consultation, which proposes a number of potentially far-reaching changes to competition and consumer law and policy.

The proposed reforms set out in the consultation, Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy: Driving growth and delivering competitive markets that work for consumers (the Consultation), would change UK competition laws and introduce new consumer protection laws. The Government is also consulting on giving the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) the ability to directly enforce consumer protection rules in a similar manner to competition law.

Organisations and individuals are invited to respond to BEIS on the Consultation by 1 October 2021.

Read our latest alert to find out more. 

Stronger antitrust enforcement on non-compete agreements may be on the horizon

The Biden administration’s extensive Executive Order (EO) Promoting Competition in the American Economy encourages federal agencies to restrict the “unfair use” of non-compete clauses (and similar restrictive agreements) that “may unfairly limit worker mobility.” While the EO doesn’t signal any immediate changes to current non-compete agreement or U.S. antitrust laws, we could expect added scrutiny and enforcement from antitrust agencies ahead. Our antitrust and labor & employment teams discuss this issue in their recent Employment Law Watch blog post.

What should transportation and logistics companies know about greenwashing?

As consumers demand more eco-friendly products and services, many companies are scrambling to prove their green credentials. Transportation and logistics companies are no different, seeking to provide more environmental-friendly means of transportation for goods and trying to source green suppliers. However it is vital that companies tread carefully and do not embellish the truth when it comes to communicating their commitment to green initiatives and their successes in this space.

The practice of making misleading environmental claims (so-called “greenwashing”) carries increasing risk in Europe, as the European Commission (EU Commission) as well as national consumer protection and/or competition authorities (including the UK Competition and Markets Authority) are more committed than ever to fight it.

Read our alert to find for practical tips and considerations for the transportation and logistics industry.

 

Does the UK’s new Subsidy Bill mark a significant departure from EU state aid rules?

The new Subsidy Control Bill (the Bill) recently had its first reading in the House of Commons. Once passed into law, this Bill will introduce a new UK regime regulating the distribution of subsidies from government bodies to businesses in the UK.

The Bill is significant and is expected by many to be the biggest change to the UK’s legislative landscape since Brexit. Undoubtedly, the Bill will bring about a dramatic shift from the previous European state aid system that applied to the granting of state subsidies in the UK prior to 2021.

Read our full summary and analysis of the key points of the bill here.

Greenwashing: what is a misleading environmental claim and how can companies avoid getting into trouble? 

The practice of making misleading environmental claims (so-called “greenwashing”) carries increasing risk in Europe. The European Commission and national consumer protection and/or competition authorities are more committed than ever to fight it, and a new EU initiative will require companies to substantiate claims they make about the environmental footprint of their products or services.

In our latest client alert, we explain exactly what an ‘environmental claim’ is, and offer practical compliance tips that companies should consider when formulating green claims.

Supreme Court blocks NCAA’s ability to restrict education-related compensation and benefits for student athletes

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on the fierce debate over student-athlete compensation, with the justices unanimously affirming an injunction that struck down National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) restrictions on education-related compensation and benefits for student athletes in NCAA v. Alston, et al., No. 20-512 (June 21, 2021). The Court found the NCAA was not exempt from antitrust law and that the lower courts had applied the correct standard of scrutiny.

Notwithstanding the injunction, the NCAA may still impose certain compensation restrictions, and individual conferences and schools retain considerable leeway to enforce strict limits.

Our recent client alert details the ruling and provides tangible examples of the types of compensation the NCAA may and may not restrict following Alston.

As a multi-agency pharmaceutical task force emerges now is the time for pharmaceutical companies to shape merger control policy

Following a period of relative leniency for pharmaceutical companies, a Multilateral Pharmaceutical Merger Task Force formed by key antitrust enforcement agencies has been established to review and update merger analysis.

The task force includes representatives from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Canadian Competition Bureau, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, and the offices of state attorneys general.

Read our full client alert for more detail.

The European Commission increases intervention in M&A deals in the EU

The European Commission (EC) recently revealed a major change in merger policy affecting cross-border M&A deals in Europe. The new referral practice creates significant uncertainty for deals that would not have previously triggered scrutiny in the EU. In our latest client alert, we shed more light on the EC’s new referral policy and identify the practical key implications when planning cross-border M&A deals in Europe.

Supreme Court decision weakens FTC’s enforcement authority

On April 22, 2021, the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that § 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act does not permit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to seek, or a court to award, equitable monetary relief (e.g., restitution or disgorgement). This decision denies the FTC one of its most important enforcement tools, one that had frequently been used in both consumer protection and antitrust litigations. Our team of antitrust, regulatory, and consumer protection lawyers review the decision and how companies will be impacted in this in-depth report.

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