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CMA comes to Leeds to present on competition issues in infrastructure projects

Leading infrastructure representatives attend Walker Morris event on how competition law affects infrastructure projects

Leading figures from the infrastructure sector attended Walker Morris’ offices to hear representatives from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) present on the CMA’s role and remit and how these impact infrastructure projects in the Northern Powerhouse.

Jennifer Halliday (Project Director, CMA regional representative for Yorkshire and the Humber) and James Lambert (Project Director, CMA regional representative for the north east of England) spoke about the competition and regulation issues that often arise in infrastructure projects. They outlined common issues in merger control / joint ventures and gave some key considerations for collaboration. As well as outlining projects in the regulated sectors, they covered the CMA’s current portfolio of cases and discussed the impact of Brexit and the state aid regime on the CMA’s activity.

Trudy Feaster-Gee, Partner (Barrister) and Head of Competition at Walker Morris commented:

“Research commissioned by the CMA to measure UK businesses’ understanding of anticompetitive behaviours and awareness of the penalties for breaching competition law across the UK regions shows that, in certain areas of the north of England, many businesses are unaware of their obligations and the pitfalls they face for breaching the rules.

“An important part of the CMA’s mission is to make complying with competition law second nature for all businesses, from large FTSE 100 companies to small and medium-sized enterprises. The CMA is keen to reach out to businesses outside of London to raise awareness of the CMA’s work and guidance available. The event was a great opportunity for infrastructure businesses operating in the North to hear directly from the CMA on how the rules apply in their sector and the CMA’s enforcement priorities.”

Walker Morris commented:

“Clients appreciated the opportunity to ask questions of the CMA officials and to gain a better understanding both of competition law risks but also how competition law may assist in opening up markets and commercial opportunities for them. Businesses in the North are keen to see effective competition for the major investment projects promised as part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative. 

“The CMA’s work covers all areas of industry and can have a significant impact on the regulatory framework for any sector. For example, we have a number of clients closely involved with the development and provision of heat networks, which are the subject of a BEIS initiative to boost the decarbonisation of heat. Clients who attended our event welcomed the recently announced CMA report and were keen to understand the impact of likely increased regulation of heat services and to maintain the pace of development of heat networks.”