The UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (“BIS”) has published a consultation on proposed revisions to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”) rules of procedure (the “CAT Rules”). The amendments to CAT Rules have been made in the context of wider competition reforms in the UK and in particular in light of the Consumer Rights Bill. The Consumer Rights Bill is currently making its way through parliament and is expected to enter into force on 1 October 2015 (for more information see the article here). The Bill amends key legislation governing competition law enforcement in the UK, and will (amongst other things) expand the jurisdiction of the CAT so that the Tribunal may, for the first time, grant injunctions.
The revised CAT Rules amend the CAT’s procedural powers so that it may give effect to its new functions. They include the set of draft rules of procedure relating to collective actions that was published separately in March 2014 and incorporate recommendations following a review by the Rt Hon Sir John Mummery. Stakeholders are asked to submit comments on the proposed changes by 3 April 2015.
The power to grant injunctions (Rules 66 – 69)
The Consumer Rights Bill will give the CAT the power to grant both interim and final injunctions. The revised CAT Rules set out the procedural rules for this new power, which will not apply to proceedings in Scotland. Interim injunctions may be granted at any time, including before proceedings are started (in the event that the matter is urgent or it is necessary to do so in the interests of justice) and after judgment has been given. Applications for injunctions must be supported by evidence, which should include all material information regarding the applicant’s ability to pay under any undertakings as to damages that the Tribunal may require to be given.
In the event that a party subject to an injunction has failed to comply with its terms, the party wishing to enforce the injunction may apply to the CAT for certification of the matter to the High Court. After giving the parties an opportunity to be heard, the CAT must make directions as it thinks fit for determining whether to certify the matter to the High Court.
When it enters into force, the Consumer Rights Bill will also expand the jurisdiction of the CAT so that it may hear stand-alone damages actions for alleged infringements of competition law, currently the sole jurisdiction of the High Court. This is in addition to the CAT’s existing powers to hear follow-on damages claims for proven infringements of competition law. Giving the CAT the power to grant injunctions widens the suite of remedies at its disposal and aligns the Tribunal’s powers with those of the High Court. This should serve to increase the attractiveness of the CAT as a forum to hear damages claims.
For more information see the article here.