UK Competition law – Is it fit for the digital economy?

  • United Kingdom
  • 03/26/2019
  • Eversheds- Sutherland


With the rapid growth of the digital economy, a number of competition authorities, as well as governments1 are in the process of assessing whether their competition enforcement tools are fit for the digital economy. In the UK, the Government commissioned a panel of experts2 (“Panel”) to report on the state of competition in the digital economy. On 13 March 2019, they published their final report titled “Unlocking Digital Competition” (“Report”) setting out the Panel’s conclusions and its recommendations to change the UK’s competition framework to enable it to face the economic challenges posed by digital markets. This included updating the UK competition rules governing merger and antitrust enforcement, as well as proposing a bold set of pro-competition measures to open up digital markets.

This briefing considers the Panel’s conclusions, the Competition and Markets Authority’s (“CMA”) response to the Panel’s recommendations and the possible outcomes from the Report.

What are the benefits of the digital economy in the UK?
The Panel found that the digital economy has created substantial benefits for consumers by creating new categories of products and services. Many of these are of high quality with low or even zero monetary price. Furthermore, the digital economy has lowered the start-up costs for businesses, for example, through cloud computing, access to platforms and digital comparison tools. Pursuant to the industry body, Tech Nation, the digital technology sector contributed nearly £184 billion value added to the UK economy in 2017, and is expanding 2.6 times faster than the rest of the UK economy.

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