Some sectors are subject to sector-specific regulation as well as competition law. This is because, in some sectors, competition law alone is not sufficient to guarantee a well-functioning market , particularly if those sectors used to be run by a monopoly (telecommunications, post, energy, transport and care). Sector-specific regulation gained importance when the gradual liberalisation of these markets took place. Regulators (such as the Authority for Consumers & Markets, the Dutch Healthcare Authority, and the Authority for Gambling) were granted extra powers to redress actual and potential competition problems. These powers, when exercised, can have profound implications for the commercial operations of businesses. These effects do not only extend to regulated businesses, but they can also affect other businesses in the chain. Needless to say, sector-specific regulation is often at the heart of disputes between different businesses and between businesses and regulators.
Our lawyers have extensive experience of regulation. We understand only too well that an obligation to allocate costs in a different way can deeply undermine the commercial freedom of your business and amounts to much more than a mere change in the bookkeeping practices. We are well acquainted with Significant Market Power (SMP), WACC, stranded costs, ROA and EPMU versus Ramsey pricing and have advised and represented clients in countless cases concerning these issues. We also understand that each sector is different and should be approached individually and carefully in a manner discussed and agreed with you.
Consumers & regulation
The merger of the Competition Authority (NMa), the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority (OPTA) and the Consumer Authority (CA) to form the Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has highlighted the need to find solutions to real and perceived problems about consumer rights. Taking its cue from regulators in other countries, ACM is assigning an increasingly important role to consumer empowerment in its ‘problem-solving’ enforcement activities. However, ACM is not so much concerned with how to solve the problem, but rather with getting problems out of the way. Consumer rights are developing all the time and can prove a powerful tool in the hands of the regulator. On several occasions, ACM has informally compelled businesses to alter their advertisements and marketing programs. Often, the mere threat of proceedings – and the potential damage to the corporate image – is perceived by many businesses as sufficient reason to adapt their business practices. Several companies have recently been fined by ACM as result of breaches of consumer law found in relation to online sales.
The lawyers at Maverick closely monitor the effects of ACM’s focus on consumer rights. They understand – particularly when it comes to consumer rights – that it is not just legal arguments that clinch a case. However, if legal proceedings do turn out to be the most appropriate option, Maverick has all the skills and competencies to provide you with the assistance you need.