The National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), representing franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers across the UK, welcomes the Government's announcement on Collective Action and other improvements to the enforcement of competition law.
The proposals announced today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills or 'BIS' will make it easier for groups of consumers and companies to challenge anti-competitive behaviour themselves.
Importantly, the NFDA, alongside other trade bodies, has succeeded in making the case to extend the right to Collective Action under the UK's Competition Act to businesses and their representative bodies. Currently, such protection is only available in respect of claims brought on behalf of consumers, with businesses having to rely on unsatisfactory and complex group litigation rules. The reforms will therefore make it easier for legitimate representative bodies, such as the NFDA, to bring competition claims on behalf of members that have been harmed by anti-competitive behaviour.
Sue Robinson, NFDA Director, commented “The NFDA have long called for a more effective means of collective action and therefore we welcome any initiative which offers improved access to justice for both businesses and consumers who have incurred losses as a result of competition law.
“The NFDA have been an integral part of the consultation process. As well as making written submissions, we were present during many of the roundtable meetings where we were able to lobby on behalf of our members.
“Under the new proposals NFDA members, who are predominantly Small and Medium Enterprises, will now be in a stronger negotiating position.
“To avoid unmeritorious litigation the Government has put in a number of safeguards to ensure only genuine cases are bought under the scheme. The NFDA supports this as we believe large amounts of unfounded litigation would only damage the scheme as a whole.”
Notes for editors:
In addition to the above developments, the Government's reforms will focus on several areas:
o The remit of the CAT will be widened so that it becomes the major venue for competition actions in the UK. This will make it easier for businesses, especially SMEs, to challenge anti-competitive behaviour that is harming them.
o The Government will create a fast track process for simpler cases in the CAT, delivering swift, cheap results, to empower SMEs to challenge anti-competitive behaviour that is restricting their ability to grow.
o The Government will introduce a limited opt-out collective actions regime for competition law, with safeguards to discourage frivolous litigation.
As regards next steps, the majority of the proposed reforms will be subject to changes in primary legislation. Where this is the case, the reforms will be subject to Parliamentary timing and approval. The Government will work in parallel with the competition authorities and other stakeholders to implement those other reforms that do not require Parliamentary approval.
The NFDA's work on Collective Action represents a key part of its drive to ensure a fairer deal for members and complements its important and ongoing work in Brussels on measures to combat wider unfair commercial practices in business-to-business relationships.
Keely Scanlan, Press Officer
Tel: 020 7307 3410
Press Office direct line: 020 7307 3422
Press Office fax: 020 7307 3406
Web: www.rmif.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses.