Tech giants must be kept in check with judicial reviews, PM is told

Tech giants must be kept in check with judicial reviews to keep digital markets fair, Rishi Sunak is told

  • The PM has been told to reject calls for lengthy and costly appeals processes 
  • READ: Rishi Sunak calls for Britain to be leader in new tech’s safety regulation 

A coalition of tech businesses, charitable foundations, trade associations and consumer organisations have called on the Prime Minister to reject calls for a lengthy and costly appeals process as part of new regulation for digital markets, saying it could ‘obstruct and delay the entire regime’.

The group wants Rishi Sunak to maintain the Judicial Review standard for appeals in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill, which is intended to open up digital markets to fair competition, save consumers money, and give them greater choice.

This is a quick and cheap process that will allow tech giants such Google and Facebook to question rulings by the new Digital Markets Unit on points of law.

But there are concerns about a lobbying campaign to try to switch to a merits-based system, which allows firms to appeal decisions with a full re-hearing of all the evidence.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stands at the door of 10 Downing Street, London, as numbers stuck to the door spell out ‘London Tech Week’ in binary code on June 14

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak attends the London Tech Week at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in London on June 12

In a letter to the Prime Minister the coalition said merits-based appeals would allow ‘powerful firms with unlimited legal budgets [to] leverage their resources and unparalleled strength in the courts to obstruct and delay the entire regime’.

On average merits appeals take twice as long as appeals on Judicial Review principles. 

The coalition’s letter said speedy decision-making is essential to make digital markets fair and keep them fair.

The coalition, which includes the News Media Association, Expedia, Coalition for App Fairness, Kelkoo and Skyscanner, went on to say ‘Ultimately, slow and ineffective enforcement will place UK businesses at a competitive disadvantage internationally, as the CMA will be unable to move quickly enough to address significant anti-competitive harm.

‘This will see consumers paying higher prices with fewer innovative products available.

‘The Judicial Review standard for appealing CMA decisions must be maintained to ensure that the objectives of the new pro-competition regime can be realised’.

It added: ‘Judicial Review is a tried and tested mechanism for appealing regulatory decisions across forward-looking regulatory regimes in the UK, including the CMA’s existing merger control and market investigation powers.’

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