Digital Markets Bill: Coalition Calls On Prime Minister To Support ‘Robust And Flexible’ Regulation

A broad coalition of tech and digital businesses, charitable foundations, trade associations, and consumer advocacy organisations has called on Rishi Sunak to unleash the full potential of the UK’s digital economy by maintaining a robust and flexible appeals process in the new regime for digital markets.

The coalition, which includes organisations such as the News Media Association, Reset, Coalition for App Fairness and Skyscanner, are today calling on the Prime Minister to maintain the Judicial Review standard for appeals within the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, the coalition said: “We welcome the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, a vital piece of legislation that will open up digital markets to fair competition, save consumers money online, and provide them with greater choice.

“It is a key part of global efforts to re-establish much needed competition in key online markets, of which the UK government should be proud.”

The coalition added that “the Judicial Review standard for appealing CMA decisions must be maintained to ensure that the objectives of the new pro-competition regime can be realised.”

“Judicial Review is a tried and tested mechanism for appealing regulatory decisions across forward-looking regulatory regimes in the UK, including the CMA’s existing merger control and market investigation powers. Subjecting the CMA to a different standard would undermine the autonomy of the CMA and create regulatory confusion.

“The need for speedy decision-making and enforcement is one of the key reasons that ex-ante regulation in digital markets is essential, to make them fair and keep them fair. Judicial Review will ensure that the CMA can act swiftly, allowing designated firms and challengers to plan ahead with certainty.”

In the letter, the coalition warned that if Competition and Markets Authority decisions were appealable on a “full merits” or “Judicial Review-plus” standard, powerful firms with unlimited legal budgets could leverage their resources in the courts to obstruct and delay the entire regime.

This would make the UK fall further behind other jurisdictions such as the European Union, where the Digital Markets Act has already passed leading to slow and ineffective enforcement, with consumers paying higher prices and with fewer innovative products available.

The full letter is here.

The full list of organisations in the coalition is:

  • Coalition for App Fairness
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Expedia Group
  • Gener8
  • Kelkoo
  • News Media Association
  • Open Markets Institute
  • Open Web Advocacy
  • Professional Publishers Association
  • Public Interest News Foundation
  • Publishers Association
  • Radiocentre
  • Reset
  • Responsible Online Commerce Coalition
  • Skyscanner
  • The Booksellers Association
  • xigxag