UK Government Proposes Radical Reform of Private Antitrust Enforcement, Paving Way to Establishing the UK as Major Centre for Antitrust Collective Actions

    View Authors February 2013

    On 29 January 2013 the UK government published its intention to radically reform private competition law actions in the UK, aimed at greatly facilitating the bringing of antitrust damages claims in the UK, among which, most controversially, for the first time allowing “opt-out” collective damages actions. While the proposals also claim to include “stringent safeguards to protect business against frivolous claims”, there is great concern that these proposals are a significant step closer to a much more litigious and (for business) costly regime akin to that prevailing in the US.

    A number of these reforms will require primary legislation and will no doubt be the subject of much further debate before they are enacted – the government’s proposal document itself recognises that “there are strong and passionately held views on both sides of this debate” and the Confederation of British Industry, for one, immediately made clear it is strongly opposed in principle to allowing “opt-out” claims in the UK on grounds that the proposals would be likely to fuel a litigation culture and thereby harm growth in the UK economy.