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Office of Fair Trading

Volume 475: debated on Tuesday 13 May 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what (a) primary and (b) secondary legislation governs the powers of the Office of Fair Trading; what changes have been made to each since their entry into force; and if he will make a statement. (203542)

The primary legislation that governs the Office of Fair Trading's (OFT) powers in relation to competition law and enforcement are:

(i) The Competition Act 1998 (“the Act”). The OFT is responsible for enforcing the prohibitions contained in the Act which outlaw anti-competitive agreements and abuses of a dominant position within a market. The Act also empowers the OFT to obtain information, enter premises to conduct investigations, make interim and final decisions and impose financial penalties.

(ii) The Enterprise Act 2002 provides the OFT with powers in relation to the regulatory control of mergers, market investigations and to the enforcement of the cartel offence and certain consumer legislation.

Further powers given to the OFT under secondary legislation are:

(i) Competition Act 1998 (Office of Fair Trading Rules) Order 2004 which outlines the procedural rules followed by OFT in carrying out investigations under the Competition Act 1998.

(ii) EC Regulation 1/2003, which came into force May 2004, gives the OFT the power to enforce the prohibitions against anti-competitive agreements and abuses of a dominant position which may affect trade between EU member states. This regulation is about the implementation of the rules on competition laid down in Articles 81 and 82 of the treaty of Rome.