On 14 October 2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) announced its proposals to merge the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission to create a single competition regulator. Currently, along with its consumer protection functions, the OFT is responsible for conducting investigations into suspected anti-competitive arrangements and abuses of dominance, as well as conducting initial market studies and merger reviews. The role of the Competition Commission is to conduct more in-depth reviews of those mergers or markets referred to it by the OFT (or concurrent regulators, in the case of market investigations) that appear to give rise to more significant competition issues.
The move comes as part of the coalition government's plans to simplify the work of public bodies, with the creation of a single competition authority intended to streamline procedures and create a stronger enforcement authority. The new body would be responsible for all merger reviews, market investigations, and cartel and antitrust cases, as well as a number of functions with respect to regulated utilities. A public consultation on the options for creating the new competition and markets authority is planned for 2011.
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