The outbreak of COVID-19 is an unprecedented and rapidly evolving challenge that has prompted many concerns that businesses might exploit the situation to take advantage of people, for example by charging excessive prices or making misleading claims about their products.
In its statement of 5 March, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) urged retailers to behave responsibly and said that it would consider any evidence that companies may have broken competition or consumer protection law.
As the public health emergency worsens and its impact on the economy becomes more serious, the CMA is creating a taskforce which will:
- Scrutinise market developments to identify harmful sales and pricing practices as they emerge.
- Warn firms suspected of exploiting these exceptional circumstances – and people’s vulnerability – through unjustifiable prices or misleading claims. The CMA has already contacted traders and platforms regarding excessive pricing of hand sanitiser.
- Take enforcement action if there is evidence that firms may have breached competition or consumer protection law and they fail to respond to warnings…