Closing the Enforcement Gap

Publication Details

Proposals for reform and increasing the speed of enforcement action in Big Tech competition cases

Big tech markets have become highly monopolised. This is a major growth-inhibiting and innovation-limiting issue for smaller tax-paying tech firms in the UK. Government recognition and awareness of this issue seems almost entirely absent, which perhaps is why UK enforcement and legislation is lagging other countries.

UK firms seeking to get the law enforced also face the difficulty of taking private court action where their identity must be disclosed, and risks of retaliation are high. They depend on the CMA acting well and using the full remit of its (already limited) powers which sadly it hardly ever does. The CMA does not routinely use injunctions to protect the market and “freeze the scene of the crime” pending further investigation, as it could. In digital markets, where data is critical, investigations in cases may reveal breaches of other laws (data protection and other consumer protection laws).

We propose reforms that enable private whistle blower action, and a broader remit for a specialised Digital Markets Unit so multiple laws can be investigated by a single investigating team under the authority of the Attorney General’s Office, to better protect the public interest and the rule of law.