CMA behavioural investigation process
CMA behavioural investigation process

The following Competition practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • CMA behavioural investigation process
  • Stages of an investigation
  • CMA decision making
  • CMA Procedural Officer
  • Third party complaints
  • How to complain
  • Making formal complaints
  • Making an informal approach
  • Involvement in the investigation
  • Confidentiality of the complaint process
  • More...

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigates allegations of anti-competitive behaviour that may have an impact in the UK (breaches of Chapter I and/or Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998 and, up until 31 December 2020, breaches of Articles 101 and/or 102 TFEU). Investigations are carried out under the Competition Act 1998.

Investigations can start in a number of ways, including:

  1. a company involved in potential wrongdoing blowing the whistle (see further, Leniency and immunity below)

  2. an individual involved in potential wrongdoing blowing the whistle (see further, Whistle-blowing by individuals below)

  3. a third party making a complaint (see further, Third party complaints below), or

  4. the CMA receiving general market intelligence which suggests that competition law has been breached (eg press reports and informal complaints).

Once it learns about alleged anti-competitive behaviour, the CMA will decide whether to launch an investigation based on factors set out in the 'Prioritisation Principles'. The CMA primarily focuses on cases where an investigation will have the greatest impact, the greatest chance of a successful outcome and will act as a deterrent to others.

If an investigation is launched, it will follow a set process. Those under investigation have opportunities to make their case in defence, including written submissions and attending oral hearings. There is no overall deadline and investigations can take several years to complete.

Ultimately, if the CMA finds that

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