The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy today issued a press release stating that the government will introduce its promised Subsidy Control Bill to Parliament later today.
The press release trails a few details of the proposals which are worth noting (subject to the terms of the Bill itself).
(a) The “independent body” required by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement will be part of the CMA (which may give the regime more credibility with the EU and other trading partners, which know the CMA well, but which some practitioners feel may lead to an inappropriately “competition law” approach being adopted to subsidy control).
b) The Competition Appeal Tribunal will have judicial review jurisdiction across the UK in subsidy matters (allowing for a common approach across the UK by a court familiar with economic regulation).
c) It is not clear whether there will be a “safe harbour” for subsidies deemed to be unproblematic – but we will have to see the detail.
d) “Displacement” of jobs and economic activity across internal UK borders will be a self-standing ground for not proceeding with a subsidy (it is not clear whether that will be alongside a more general distortion of competition ground).
More detailed analysis will have to await publication of the Bill.
GEORGE PERETZ QC