The CMA recognises that businesses may need to cooperate to ensure supply of essential products and services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

By Rob Moulton, David Little, Gregory Bonné, and Anna Lewis-Martinez

On 27 March 2020, the FCA and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) announced their support for the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA’s) guidance on its approach to business cooperation under competition law in response to COVID-19, published by the CMA on 25 March 2020.

Both the FCA and the PSR have said that they will take an approach consistent with that of the CMA in relation to their competition law enforcement activity in the financial services sector during the pandemic. That is, the agencies will not seek to take enforcement action against business-critical cooperation between financial services providers, which is required to ensure the supply and distribution of scarce products and/or services affected by the crisis. The agencies noted that “it is important that competition law does not impede firms from working together to provide essential services to consumers in the current coronavirus situation”. However, neither the FCA nor the PSR will tolerate conduct that seeks to exploit the situation and that harms consumers.