Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

New competition tribunal revealed

Jo Swinson said the new system would help companies and individuals claim compensation more easily and more quickly

Victims of price-fixing and other unscrupulous business practices will be able to claim compensation more easily under measures announced by the Government.

Ministers want to help consumers and companies obtain swifter redress when they fall prey to anti-competitive behaviour.

The new regime will feature a fast-track system for taking action via the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), ensuring "cheap and quick results". Ministers will also establish the CAT as the main competition court, enabling it to hear more cases and resolve disputes swiftly.

Competition minister Jo Swinson said: "Actions like price-fixing or imposing unfair trading terms can really harm businesses, particularly small businesses, and restrict their ability to grow; and that is why we will create a fast-track system in the courts for businesses to restore justice as quickly as possible.

"These changes will empower consumers and businesses, and continue to improve on the UK's position as a world-class competition regime."

In a further move, representative bodies will be able to take collective actions with groups of consumers or businesses automatically included, unless they choose to opt out.

Businesses subject to claims will be able to put forward collective settlements to the CAT to avoid unnecessary costs under the Alternative Dispute Resolution regime.

Richard Lloyd, executive director of the consumer watchdog Which?, said the measures would provide more power against unscrupulous businesses.

"In the small number of cases where this will apply, collective legal action and settlements will automatically include everyone who has been affected so more people should get redress and sooner," he said.

"The proposals will help to put consumers in the driving seat and will also act as a meaningful deterrent to dodgy or dishonest firms. This is good for consumers, responsible businesses and the wider economy."

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