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Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill should not be weakened say Lords Committee

18 October 2023

Baroness Stowell, Chair of the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee, has written to the Prime Minister to emphasise the importance maintaining the judicial review appeals standard in the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill


The letter follows reports that the Government has been considering changes which would allow a broader appeals system with the prospect of lengthy litigation to challenge the regulator’s decisions. The letter says this would undermine the fundamental purpose of the Bill and reduce the likelihood of ensuring healthy competition in the digital economy. It sets out four key advantages to the maintaining the current judicial review standard:

  • Speed – Judicial review provides a timely process that ensures the regulator’s decisions remain relevant to market conditions.

  • Fairness – Judicial review is a tried and tested process which is used to good effect in comparable settings. Introducing more avenues for legal challenge against the regulator’s decisions would not in itself make the process fairer, but it would create a power imbalance favouring those with the greatest resources.

  • Non-adversarial approach – Judicial review encourages parties in a dispute to engage constructively and in good faith early on.

  • Regulatory certainty – The factors above ensure regulatory certainty around decisions, whereas a lengthier process would introduce more uncertainty.

The letter acknowledges that the Bill should be proportionate and not anti-big tech, drawing attention to other areas that do not require stricter regulations. Baroness Stowell said the Government’s original approach struck the right balance and should not now be changed. 

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