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Conference to discuss competition regulators and policy

Alex Chisholm chief executive designate of the Competition and Markets Authority

Fri, 17 May 2013

The chief executive designate of the UK's new competition regulator and the former head of the US Federal Trade Commission are among the speakers taking part in a major conference at the University of East Anglia next month.

Alex Chisholm, chief executive designate of the Competition and Markets Authority

Organised by the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy (CCP) at UEA, the two-day event will focus on the institutions at the heart of regulating competition in the US and Europe, and which in recent years have faced increased scrutiny. It comes ahead of the establishment later this year of a new single UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which will take on the functions of the Competition Commission and the Office of Fair Trading following the Government's decision to reform the competition regime.

The CCP Summer Conference, taking place on June 6-7, will examine the importance of institutional design and the impact of these organisations, and investigate the process of organisational and legal change. It will look at their effectiveness and the issues of reform and enforcement, as well as the future of competition policy and law in emerging economies. The event will bring together leading international economists, legal scholars, historians and political scientists, academics and practitioners.

Prof Bruce Lyons, deputy director of CCP, said: "This conference will feature world class speakers on the highly relevant topic of how institutions influence the effectiveness of competition policy. This is timely, not least because of the changes taking place this year in the UK with the creation of the CMA. Should responsibility for competition policy, regulation and consumer protection reside in a single or in separate institutions? What form of internal organisation is most effective in these institutions? And what difference do courts and legal cultures make to enforcement? These are just some of the questions we will be aiming to answer."

Among those speaking is Alex Chisholm, who has been appointed chief executive of the new CMA, which will be established on October 1 and will assume full functions and powers on April 1 2014. Before being appointed to the CMA, he was chair and commissioner of Ireland's communications regulatory agency, ComReg, and also served as chair of the Economic Regulators Network in Ireland. Prior to joining ComReg, Mr Chisholm held a number of executive positions in the media, IT and communications industries.

Also taking part is Bill Kovacic, former chairman of the US FTC, Global Competition Professor of Law and Policy and director of the Competition Law Center at George Washington University. From June 2001 to December 2004 he served as the general counsel for the FTC and is a recognized expert in the fields of antitrust law and government contracts law. Prof Kovacic has served as an adviser on antitrust and consumer protection issues to the governments around the world, including Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Russia, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.

The line-up also includes Jacques Steenbergen, Professor of European Competition Law at the University of Leuven and director general of the Belgian Competition Authority, and Peter Freeman QC, who has held senior posts in UK government service, is a chairman of the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal and a member of the Lloyd's Enforcement Appeal Tribunal Panel.

Details about the conference programme and speakers are available here.