The UK Competition Authority publishes a second update from its COVID-19 taskforce

Update on CMA COVID-19 Taskforce*

The CMA has published a second update from its COVID-19 Taskforce, which monitors and responds to competition and consumer problems arising from the pandemic.

As part of the Taskforce’s work, it is asking the public for information about businesses behaving unfairly, for example regarding cancellations and refunds or retailers charging unjustifiably high prices.

Some of the highlights in this update include:

  • From 10 March to 17 May, the CMA has been contacted more than 60,000 times about coronavirus-related issues. Between 11 – 17 May on average 1,200 people a day contacted the CMA.
  • Since mid-April, the majority of complaints received by the CMA have been about unfair practices in relation to cancellations and refunds. Holidays and airlines account for almost 27,000 complaints, three-quarters of the total number of complaints about cancellations and refunds.
  • The CMA has launched a programme of work to investigate whether companies are breaking the law. Three sectors were initially prioritised: holiday accommodation, weddings and events and nurseries. The CMA has opened cases in respect of certain companies in these sectors and further details will be announced in due course. As a result of the rise in the number of complaints, package holidays have now been included in the scope of the investigation.
  • Since early April, the number of complaints about price rises has fallen, but the coronavirus pandemic, and the necessary restrictions on businesses and people continue to present significant risks that prices are raised above justifiable levels for a number of essential products.
  • The CMA has written to 264 firms, accounting for over 3,100 complaints, about price rises for essential products.

The overall number of submissions relate to just over 16,000 individual private sector businesses in the UK, or less than 3 in 1000. The vast majority of businesses are behaving in a reasonable way, but the CMA will not hesitate to take enforcement action if there is evidence that businesses have breached competition or consumer protection law.

*This is the original title of the press release. The title above has been amended in order to match the e-Competitions format. Individual authors are welcome to provide original independent commentaries on the case law. Articles are subject to approval by the Board of e-Competitions Bulletin before publication based on the Editorial Policy (click here).

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UK Competition Authority, The UK Competition Authority publishes a second update from its COVID-19 taskforce, 21 mai 2020, e-Competitions May 2020, Art. N° 95115

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