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Competition law to highlight private actions

Dealergroups need to be aware of new Office of Fair Trading (OFT) recommendations which look set to increase the effectiveness of private actions in competition law.

The OFT suggests the government consults on a number of proposed measures which will make private actions as successful as the government’s 2001 white paper, A World Class Competition Regime, intended them to be.

OFT recommendations to strengthen the private action regime include changing procedures to allow bodies to bring actions on behalf of consumers and businesses, regardless of whether a competition authority has previously taken public enforcement action and ensuring funding is available for creditable cases which would not otherwise occur.

The proposals are the outcome of an OFT consultation which showed that consumers and businesses wishing to bring legal proceedings continue to face problems. As a result, prospects of obtaining redress remain remote and incentives for businesses to comply with competition law are not as widespread as intended in the white paper.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMIF) support the need for trade bodies to be able to undertake group class actions. Alec Murray, RMIF chairman, said: "It would greatly benefit businesses that belong to membership organisations, if those bodies could act on their behalf via group class actions."

Currently, a named individual member of a trade body must instigate legal proceedings within a group action.

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