SCF Event – The Scottish Government’s Competition and Consumer Policy, 23 June 2016

At this SCF Lite event we discussed recent developments in the Scottish competition and consumer law landscape with representatives of the Scottish Government’s Consumer and Competition Policy Unit.

Under the Scotland Act 2016 the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government gained a variety of new powers in respect of competition and consumer policy. In particular, consumer advocacy and advice has now been devolved and the Scottish Government have a new power to act with the UK Secretary of State, in certain circumstances, to refer a market for investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The devolution of the management and operation of all reserved tribunals (e.g. the CAT) also opens up the possibility of a devolved CAT applying a distinctive Scottish approach in competition litigation.

The Scottish Government has started a process of engaging with stakeholders to develop a ‘Consumer and Competition Strategy for Scotland’ to ensure these new powers are used effectively.  This follows on from the work undertaken by the independent Working Group on Consumer and Competition Policy for Scotland, which published a report on the best arrangements for consumer protection and competition in Scotland which the Scottish Government have subsequently responded to.

There were two broad parts to this seminar. The first was focused on developments in consumer and competition policy in Scotland, in particular the aims of the Scottish Government and of its new “Consumer Scotland” body, the benefits the Scottish Government sees for consumers and businesses, and how it intends to tailor competition policy at a devolved level to focus on those issues that cause disproportionate detriment to Scottish consumers. The second session looked at the devolution of the CAT – and the options for change after devolution.

Our panel consisted of:

  • Chair: John Schmidt, Partner in the Regulation and Markets Team at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP
  • Sheena Brown, Head of Consumer and Competition Policy Unit at the Scottish Government
  • Lorraine King, Head of Competition Policy at the Scottish Government.