Office of Fair Trading market studies and Competition Commission market investigations
The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) has a general interest in OFT market studies and CC market investigations and co-ordinates Government responses where those studies make recommendations to Government.
Office of Fair Trading (OFT) market studies are detailed investigations of markets that are not operating well for consumers but where neither consumer regulation enforcement by the OFT nor competition enforcement through a referral to the Competition Commission (CC) is likely to resolve the issues.
Market studies will usually be performed under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002 in order to identify whether perceived problems should be addressed through the OFT’s other functions. There is a range of possible outcomes of a study including:
- giving the market a clean bill of health (i.e. a decision that intervention is not appropriate on the evidence available)
- publishing information to help consumers
- encouraging firms to take voluntary action
- encouraging a consumer code of practice
- making recommendations to the Government or regulators
- investigation or enforcement action against companies or individuals suspected of breaching consumer law or competition law
- a market investigation reference to the Competition Commission
The CC conducts in-depth inquiries into markets -“market investigations”- undertaken in response to a reference made by the OFT or sectoral regulator and, in certain limited circumstances, by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
BIS has a general interest in OFT's market studies and CC’s market investigations and co-ordinates Government responses where those studies/investigations make recommendations to Government.
Consideration of regulatory and policy issues is a matter for the relevant Department.
BIS works closely with other Government departments to make sure that the Government's response takes account not only of competition and consumer interests but wider public policy objectives.
The market studies and market investigations where BIS has played an active role are:
To find information on other market studies, go to the National Archives Web Archive of market studies pages.
Report by Frontier Economics on the market studies/markets investigation regime
Frontier Economics was commissioned to carry out an initial review of the effectiveness of the market studies/market investigations regime. A report, presents Frontier Economics (PDF, 711 Kb) ' findings in relation to the impacts of the regime and indicative lessons for improving its effectiveness.