Utility Regulation and Competition Policy

Utility Regulation and Competition Policy

Edited by Colin Robinson

In this book, the latest volume in the annual series published in association with the London Business School and the Institute of Economic Affairs, some of the main issues in UK and EU utility regulation and competition policy are discussed. Topics examined include the new electricity and gas trading markets, regulating the railways, introducing competition into water, telecoms and Ofcom, opening EU gas and electricity markets, the 1998 Competition Act, EU merger policy and a general review of privatisation and regulation in Britain. Essays by expert commentators are followed in each case by comments from the relevant regulator.

Chapter 8: Concurrency or Convergence? Competition and Regulation Under the Competition Act 1998 – Tom Sharpe QC, Chairman’s Comments – Geoffrey Horton

Tom Sharpe QC

Subjects: economics and finance, competition policy, public finance, public sector economics


In preparing this chapter I reverted to a book written by David Boies entitled Public Control of Business (Little Brown, 1977). In his chapter on the application of anti-trust laws and policies to regulated markets he says this: The interface between anti-trust and regulation is a veritable no-man’s land for students and practitioners alike. Since the theories of anti-trust and regulation reflect differing assumptions about Government intervention into the marketplace, it is often difficult to rationalise their impact on particular industry behaviour. The anti-trust laws, to borrow a phrase, are a brooding omnipresence, with a pervasive, almost constitutional meaning in our jurisprudence. Direct economic regulation (which is entrusted to agencies rather than the Courts) may supplant the anti-trust laws and specific industries for carefully carved-out purposes. But at the edges, these purposes thin out and the anti-trust laws inevitably reappear in the background. At this point it is no small matter to blend the policies of the two conflicting regimes into an overall regulatory purpose that preserves the values of both.

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