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Enterprise Act
|Introduction | Main Reforms |


Enterprise Act


The Enterprise Act received Royal Assent on 7 November 2002 and covers a range of measures designed to enhance enterprise. It strengthens the UK’s competition framework, transforms our approach to bankruptcy and corporate rescue, and empowers consumers.

The Act builds on the progress made by the Competition Act 1998, recent insolvency reforms and measures already implemented in the 1999 White Paper ‘Modern Markets: Confident Consumers’.

Full text of the Act (link to HMSO).
Explanatory Notes (link to HMSO).

Click the button to view our Fact Sheet on the Act.

The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) has published a guide to the principal competition and consumer provisions of the Enterprise Act and also the Office’s new role under the Act. OFT Guide.

Consumer and competition provisions of the Enterprise Act which came into force on 20 June 2003 and additional Statutory Instruments made under Part 8.

Enterprise Act Part 9 information.

Enterprise Act Schedules 14 and 15.

Main Reforms in the Enterprise Act

Office of Fair Trading

• Establishes the OFT as an independent statutory body with a Board, and gives it a greater role in ensuring that markets work well to the benefit of all.

Competition Measures

• The introduction of the ‘substantial lessening of competition’ test to replace previous wider public interest test.

• A turnover test replaces the previous current assets test for determining which mergers qualify for investigation.

• The Competition Appeals Tribunal will hear cases by third parties alleging that companies have infringed the competition laws.

• Criminal sanctions with a maximum penalty of five years in prison to deter those individuals who dishonestly operate hardcore cartels.

• New power for the OFT to ask the High Court for directors to be disqualified for up to five years for competition offences.

• Consumer bodies able to make complaints (known as ‘supercomplaints’) as a representative body to the Office of Fair Trading about markets that are not working well for consumers.

• There are greater opportunities for victims of anti-competitive behaviour to gain redress. Consumer bodies will be able to make claims on behalf of individuals who have suffered.

Consumer Protection Measures

Extending the Enforcement Orders regime (Stop Now Orders) to protect consumers from traders who do not meet their legal obligations.

•OFT to approve Codes of Practice. 

Insolvency Reforms

See Insolvency Service web site 

Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs)

Regulatory Impact Assessments (RIAs) are published with regulatory proposals and new legislation.

Each RIA describes the issue that has given rise to a need for regulation and compares various possible options for dealing with that issue. The costs and benefits of each option are identified, and quantified wherever possible, to help policy makers think through the consequences of proposals, improve advice to ministers, and encourage informed public debate about regulation.

Final RIAs published at enactment

Overarching RIA (16 pages)
Competition Reform RIA (29 pages)
Insolvency Provisions RIA (21 pages)
Consumer Protection RIA (14 pages)

DTI Contact

DTI Enquiry Unit 020 7215 5000

Return to Consumer & Competition topics page

Last updated 03 August 2005

Department of Trade and Industry

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