UK regulatory blow? Competition Appeal Tribunal refused to allow the CMA to appeal the Tribunal’s judgement
The UK’s antitrust regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been refused permission to appeal against a ruling from March.
Apple had won an appeal in March against the decision by the CMA to open a full investigation into the dominance of Apple and Alphabet’s Google in mobile browsers and cloud gaming services.
And now on Wednesday the Competition Appeal Tribunal said that “reasoned order dated 3 May 2023, the Respondent’s application for permission to appeal the Tribunal’s judgment was refused.”
In the full judgement, the Competition Appeal Tribunal said that the CMA had raised two grounds of appeal, but it stated that “we are not satisfied that either of the CMA’s Grounds of Appeal have a real prospect of success.”
It should be noted that the CMA can still take its bid for permission to appeal against the tribunal’s ruling directly to the Court of Appeal.
“We are carefully considering the tribunal’s decision and are considering our next steps,” a CMA spokesperson was quoted as saying by Reuters.
The CMA had said in March that the ruling “risks substantially undermining the CMA’s ability to efficiently and effectively investigate and intervene in markets.”
But the tribunal said that the law on when the CMA can open a market investigation is clear.
“The letter of the law matters, even if it generates undesirable or unfortunate results,” the tribunal said.
“We have considered whether there is any other compelling reason why permission to appeal should be granted in this case,” it stated. “Although we appreciate the CMA’s policy concerns about the markets concerned, we conclude there is no legally relevant compelling reason to grant permission.”
Meanwhile also in March, the CMA’s investigation of Apple and its App Store policies was revealed to be extended until May this year.
The probe has been ongoing for a while now, as it was back in March 2021, when the CMA opened its investigation into Apple’s distribution of apps on iOS and iPadOS devices in the UK.
The CMA began its investigation into Apple following complaints that its terms and conditions for app developers were unfair and anti-competitive.
The CMA is investigating Apple’s conduct in relation to the distribution of apps on iOS and iPadOS devices in the UK, in particular, the terms and conditions governing app developers’ access to Apple’s App Store.
The CMA move came after the European Commission in June 2020 also opened two formal antitrust investigations into Apple, over its App Store and Apple Pay.