Office of Fair Trading set to beef up its investigation procedures

Elizabeth Fournier
THE UK’s Office of Fair Trading will this morning announce changes to its investigation procedures, as it attempts to rejig its systems in the wake of high-profile failures on appeal.

The changes are expected to include introducing “collective decision making”, meaning that each case will be handed on after the first phase of investigation to ensure a fresh and accurate level of scrutiny. Lawyers welcomed the new system. “This change will increase parties’ confidence in the OFT’s decision making as there will be the assurance of meaningful fresh scrutiny of the provisional decision of the OFT,” said Bruce Kilpatrick, competition lawyer at Addleshaw Goddard.

The OFT also plans to give parties a heads up on possible penalties involved during the deliberation process, instead of waiting for the final outcome, as well as making changes to the formal oral hearings that form part of its investigations.

The regulator has recently faced embarrassing climbdowns on fines meted out to the tobacco and construction industries.