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Peers Move To Strengthen New Regime For Digital Markets

12 March 2024

Peers have voted to strengthen the new regime for the digital markets, voting for key amendments to the Digital Markets and Consumers Bill in a debate last night.

The amendments – which address key areas of the Bill such as the appeals standard and the countervailing benefits exemption – are designed to help ensure the tech platforms will not be able to evade compliance with the new pro-competition regime.

Lord Lansley’s amendment would – when the Competition and Markets Authority seeks approval of its guidance – require the Secretary of State to within 40 days either approve the guidance; or refuse to approve it and refer the proposed guidance back to the CMA.

Amendments in the name of Baroness Jones would revert the countervailing benefits exemption to the version originally in the Bill, including the “indispensability” standard, strengthening the effectiveness of the new legislation.

Baroness Jones also tabled amendments which would reinstate judicial review as the appeals standard across the first part of the Bill.

Lord Faulks’ amendments would reverse the changes made in the House of Commons that require conduct requirements and pro-competitive interventions to be “proportionate.”

Peers voted for all the amendments, signalling their intent to strengthen the Bill which help level the playing field between publishers and the tech platforms.

Lord Black of Brentwood’s amendment which would make the final offer mechanism available earlier in the enforcement process was not put to a division.

However the Minister said that the final offer mechanism should be a “credible incentive to negotiate, so that designated undertakings are not able to frustrate the enforcement process over many months or even years.”