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Competition law in the United Kingdom includes both domestic and EU legislation which is intended to prevent anti-competitive behaviour in the market.  It aims ensure the market is fair for consumers and producers by preventing unethical or anti-competitive practices designed to gain a larger market share than what would be achieved through honest competition.

An example of such anti-competitive practice prohibited by law would be excessive pricing which involves a company with the largest market share or the monopoly holder charging an extreme price for something that is a necessary purchase for the consumer.

Other examples include tying the purchase of one product to another, predatory pricing and refusal to deal with another company in a way that restricts competition.

The Fair Trading Act 1973 is the piece of UK legislation that extended UK competition law to control monopolies, mergers and takeovers, restrictive trade agreements and resale prices. The act established the Office of Fair Trading.

In terms of European Union law, currently, if a British company is carrying out unfair business practice involved in a cartel or is attempting to merge in a way which would disrupt the market EU law exclusively applies. Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) prohibits agreements between undertakings, decisions by associations of undertakings and concerted practices which may affect trade between member states and have as their object the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition.

Unfair competition is a deceptive business practice that causes economic harm to other businesses or consumers. This goes beyond competition law and can include trademark infringement or misappropriation of trade secrets.

Competition Law is known as antitrust law in the US. In the US, antitrust law is a collection of federal and state government laws that regulate the conduct to promote competition for the benefit of consumers.

One of the main differences between US antitrust and UK and EU competition law policies is that the EU has an administrative system for enforcement which penalises companies via fines. Whereas, US antitrust enforcement is based on criminal law with both financial and custodial penalties available.

A competition lawyer can carry out many different roles in their career. For example:

The Competition Bureau is a fast-paced environment that consistently presents new challenges and new learning opportunities. The day-to-day tasks vary, and officers are always learning about a new industry, many of which they may have never heard of. It's definitely a good fit for people who love to learn!

We have several different areas in the Competition Bureau, including cartels, deceptive marketing practices, mergers and monopolistic practices, so the job varies a lot depending on where you work. I currently work in the Advocacy Directorate where we examine a sector from a competition perspective and identify barriers to competition, including regulations or policies that make it difficult for businesses to emerge or to compete or factors that make it difficult for consumers to switch products or services. Based on our analysis, the Bureau then makes recommendations to regulators or policy-makers on how to reduce or remove those barriers to promote competition.

First and foremost, the best part of the job is the work itself. It's very complex and challenging, but you definitely get the sense that the work you do is important and is having an impact. I really enjoy getting to take an in-depth look at a new industry, learning everything I can about the inner workings of competition. As an economist, you get unparalleled access to information (in particular, data!) and the people who know the industry best, which is something that I think would be hard to find elsewhere.

I have never felt stuck or bored working at the Bureau. In part that's because there's so much variation in the day to day, but also because there's lots of room for movement. I've worked in our mergers and advocacy groups and have worked my way up from starting out as a co-op student to managing teams, and my experience is not unique!

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Job number: p21617194

Location: Gatineau (QC)

Employer: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Salary: $61,472 to $80,867


Job number: p21677710

Location: Gatineau (QC)

Employer: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Salary: $61,472 to $80,867

A market economy with a thriving market sector is the key to economic growth and long term sustainable increases in consumer welfare.  However, markets can fail because of anti-competitive practices.

Because trade liberalisation removes government-imposed barriers to international trade, it allows producers to increase their efficiency through cheaper inputs. This allows them to compete more effectively on the domestic and international markets, benefiting their customers and the economy as a whole.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that the full benefits of trade liberalisation will be achieved without a competition policy.  Many goods and services, for example, cannot be traded internationally, and agreements between groups of businesses can distort trade.  These private sector barriers can significantly reduce the benefits of trade liberalisation to ordinary consumers.

An effective competition law and policy will encourage the use of the most efficient methods of production, and will guide resources to the uses society values most highly.  There will be continuing incentives for innovation to increase productivity, and consumers will benefit from lower prices, better quality and a greater variety of goods and services.  An effective competition policy and law will prohibit business practices that unreasonably deprive consumers of these benefits, resulting in higher prices for inferior products and services.  Some, including the COMESA Competition Regulations, also prohibit other practices that mislead or deceive consumers and include provisions relating to product safety and product information and unconscionable (or grossly unfair) conduct.

Businesses will have less incentive to trade fairly when competitors can obtain short-term advantage by misleading consumers, supplying unsafe goods or acting in a grossly unfair way.  The costs of such short-term advantages will fall on both consumers and legitimate traders.

Competition Regulations, however, recognise that not all agreements between businesses harm competition.  For example, both businesses and consumers may benefit if agreements between competitors resulted in acceptable minimum standards of safety while allowing business to continue competing on factors such as price or quality.  The Regulations have been drafted to include sufficient flexibility so that beneficial agreements between companies are not prohibited.

The COMESA Competition Regulations will be enforced by the COMESA Competition Commission.  This authority will have the power and resources to:

Decisions of the Commission may generally be appealed to the COMESA Competition Board and on constitutional matters to the COMESA Court of Justice.

Because the COMESA Competition Regulations is a regional law it will only apply to conduct that affects regional trading.

Where a business’s conduct directly affects regional trading, the Regulations will apply to that business regardless of its ownership or control, including government-owned businesses and foreign-owned businesses.

In general, the Regulations prohibit all agreements between businesses which have as their objective or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition within the Common Market.


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What Is A Competition Law Officer

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