Insights Competition and Markets Authority publishes final recommendation to Secretary of State on retained Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations

The CMA has published a recommendation to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as to whether the existing two retained Horizontal Block Exemption Regulations, which have been retained from EU law (retained HBERs) should be renewed or varied when they expire on 31 December 2022. The two retained HBERs are the retained Research and Development Block Exemption (R&D BER) and the retained Specialisation Block Exemption Regulation (Specialisation BER).

On 8 April 2022, the CMA published a consultation document pursuant to s 8(1) of the Competition Act 1998, in which it sought views on its proposed recommendation to the Secretary of State to renew the retained HBERs and to make certain amendments to improve them. The consultation ran until 6 May 2022, with the CMA receiving a limited number of responses from stakeholders. The CMA has, however, also carried out additional stakeholder engagement, holding several bilateral meetings to better understand some of the views that stakeholders had expressed during its review of the two retained HBERs.

Having carefully considered the various issues, the CMA is recommending that the Secretary of State replace the retained HBERs with a UK Specialisation Block Exemption Order and a UK R&D Block Exemption Order (UK HBEOs). The CMA is recommending that the UK HBEOs be in place until 31 December 2035. Although the CMA does not consider it necessary to introduce fundamental changes to the retained HBERs, there are certain amendments that the CMA proposes the future UK HBEOs should incorporate to reflect market developments and to clarify the existing rules and improve their effectiveness. To access the CMA’s final recommendation, click here.