Reed Smith In-depth

Despite having similar systems of competition law enforcement, Brexit has granted the UK some autonomy to apply its own rules and regulations independent of the European Commission.

In many respects the UK will have to come up with its own regime with scope for divergence where similarities remain.

The CMA and the courts will have to decide the extent to which they follow EU competition law developments and case law.

The dynamic of parallel investigations and global cooperation by competition authorities in relation to antitrust and merger control issues is commonplace.

Authors: Marjorie C. Holmes Ross Mackenzie Emma Weeden Vaibhav Adlakha Dimitrios Pittas

31 December 2020 marked the end of the transition period following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union (EU). The exit was marked by the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), governing the post-Brexit relationship from 1 January 2021. In many respects the changes to the UK’s competition law regime have been minimal, reflecting the pre-Brexit status quo. However, in others, the UK will have to come up with its own regime, distinct from that of the EU. From a practical standpoint, the CMA will be free to deal with matters previously reviewed by the European Commission. Both the CMA and the courts will be at liberty to determine the extent to which they follow EU competition law developments and case law, taking into account the form any future UK-EU cooperation may take.

This article considers the likely practical impact of Brexit across three key areas of competition enforcement:

  • investigations into violations of competition law;
  • merger control; and
  • state aid.