‘Brexit was a big moment,’ notes Allen & Overy (A&O) London antitrust group head Mark Friend. ‘It has big ramifications for antitrust practitioners because the CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) is no longer able to enforce EU competition law but on the other hand, it is increasingly flexing its muscles. The high-level theme is that the CMA has an opportunity to compete on the international enforcement stage – freed from the shackles of the EU. We’ll see it taking an increasingly high-profile role.’
The UK’s departure from the EU has had an impact on all areas of legal practice, but perhaps none more so than antitrust and competition. Traditionally, the CMA as the UK regulator was largely subservient to the EU, meaning that all high-level work was European-facing. Though one may expect that Brexit would cause the London market to suffer, the emergence of the CMA as a global regulatory force has meant that London competition work is of greater global importance than ever before, to the extent that numerous US giants have been in hiring mode.