article by London partner
Matthew Hall on May 27, 2021, about the dangers of allowing anti-competitive agreements
among competitors in any but the rarest of circumstances.
In the article, Hall notes that the UK Competition Act 1998 allows
ministers to suspend the general ban on such agreements for “exceptional
and compelling reasons of public policy,” but that the clause was intended
as a reserve power to be used only rarely.
“The coronavirus pandemic clearly created rare circumstances and fully
justified the provision being dusted off,” he wrote, noting how the power
was invoked to ensure adequate supplies of food and other necessities
during the public health emergency and to assist with crisis response.
“But as the vaccine rollout proceeds apace and fans return to football
grounds, the government has proposed using the same powers to help the
[Premier League] and its broadcasters,” he noted, asserting that doing so
would set a dangerous precedent. “The reserve power should be used only
exceptionally, as the law requires, and the government should refrain from
this intervention in the market.”