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UK's competition watchdog to get extra powers to shield the public from rip-offs

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The UK’s competition watchdog will be given extra powers to boost competition and shield the public from rip-offs under planned reforms revealed by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

The new powers for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and similar enforcers will enable them to hit unscrupulous traders, who breach consumer law, with fines of up to 10% of their global turnover, and civil fines for businesses who refuse or give misleading information to enforcers.

The government is also considering several options, including introducing financial penalties, when firms breach the commitments given to enforcers that they will change their ways.

The CMA will be able to enforce consumer law directly, rather than having to go through a lengthy court process, to speed up the process.

The government also proposes to remove mergers between small businesses, where each party’s turnover is less than £10mln, from the CMA’s merger control altogether, keeping the burden on smaller businesses to a minimum.

Among a wide range of measures, the government will change the law so prepayment schemes such as Christmas savings clubs have to safeguard customers’ money to try to prevent scandals like Farepak happening again.

While for the used car and home improvement sectors, the government will make it mandatory for businesses to take part in arbitration or mediation where disputes arise over a transaction.

Bogus online ratings will also be targeted by rules that make it automatically illegal to pay someone to write, or host, a fake review.

“The UK’s economic recovery relies on the strength of our open markets and consumers’ faith in them,” said Kwarteng.

“By delivering on our commitment to bolster our competition regime, we’re giving businesses confidence that they’re competing on fair terms, and the public confidence they’re getting a good deal.”

Story by ProactiveInvestors


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