05 December 2023
On Tuesday 5 December 2023, the UK's Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill will be read in the House of Lords for a second time. In this podcast episode, Ashurst’s expert panel recaps the key reforms in the Bill and the major issues that arose during the committee stage and the Commons debates. They also pinpoint where the House of Lords is likely to pay particular attention.
Together, Ashurst's Fiona Garside, Christopher Eberhardt and Hayden Dunnett delve into the new digital markets regime and the hotly debated standard of review for CMA decisions about digital platforms. The trio also reflects on changes to consumer law enforcement, including giving the CMA direct enforcement powers, the ability to impose significant fines and require consumer redress, and the prospects for changes to substantive consumer law. They explore other notable points from the Bill arising from recent enforcement and court decisions, including those affecting litigation funding, market investigation references and the motor fuel sector amendments.
The information provided is not intended to be a comprehensive review of all developments in the law and practice, or to cover all aspects of those referred to. Listeners should take legal advice before applying it to specific issues or transactions.
Hello and welcome to Ashurst Legal Outlook. This episode focuses on the UK's Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill. My name is Fiona Garside, and I'm a Senior Expertise Lawyer and Ashurst's Antitrust, Regulation and Foreign Investment team in London.
I'm delighted to be joined today by Chris Eberhardt, a Counsel, and Hayden Dunnett, an associate, both based in our London office. Chris, Hayden, thank you for joining me today.
Many listeners will be aware that the regulation of digital markets has been a hot topic for many years in the UK, back to the Furman Report in 2019. And after a number of consultations, the Digital Markets Competition and Consumers Bill (or the DMCC) was introduced in the House of Commons in April this year. After the Committee stage was completed, the DMCC had its third reading in the House of Commons last month, on 21 November, and is now due to go to the House of Lords today.
Thanks, Fiona. And the Bill doesn't just cover the regulation of digital markets. It also introduces quite wide ranging reforms to the UK's existing consumer law regime and also the competition law. Unfortunately, we haven't got time to go through all of that today, or even to touch on all of the amendments that have been proposed so far. Instead, what we're going to do is, firstly, provide a reminder of the key reforms in the Bill, and then go on to focus on some of the key themes and issues that have arisen and been debated during the Committee stages in the Commons and also the Commons debates. And as we go, we'll also try to highlight some of the areas that we anticipate will be most likely to receive attention during the process in the House of Lords.
But before we dive in, as I say, we plan to briefly recap the Bill. And there are really three main parts to the DMCC. The first one contains very wide-ranging reforms for companies in the digital sector. Secondly, there are very significant enhancements to the CMA's consumer law enforcement powers. And then finally, as we'll explain, there's a collection of reforms to the CMA's existing competition and merger control regimes.
Thanks, Chris. If we start with the digital reforms, the Bill gives the CMA the power to impose tailored conduct requirements on firms that are found to have substantial and entrenched market power in a digital activity. Those firms will be designated by the CMA as having strategic market significance or SMS status. And the conduct requirements imposed on SMS firms will have significant bite, with breaches resulting in fines of up to 10% of an SMS company's global turnover.
And then, as Chris mentioned, there are significant changes to consumer law in the UK, particularly to the enforcement. So the key change is that the CMA will, for the first time, have the ability to directly enforce consumer law through administrative proceedings, and that brings its consumer law powers. More in line with its existing competition law powers. And the CMA will also be able to fine companies up to 10% of global turnover for consumer law breaches and to award compensation to consumers.
In terms of the remaining competition law reforms there are four I'll briefly mention at the outset. The first is in terms of merger control, where the target turnover threshold is being increased to GBP 100 million, to be in line with inflation, and there's an additional threshold that's been introduced to capture so called "killer acquisitions", along with the new exemption for transactions where both parties have turnover of less than £10 million.
On the investigations side, the CMA will have additional information gathering powers and bolstered powers to fine companies for non-compliance with requests for information.
On market studies and investigations, the CMA will have greater flexibility to define the scope of investigations, additional powers and flexibility in terms of referral decisions after a market study has been completed and the Bill proposes to give the CMA the power to impose fines for breaches of market investigation orders and undertakings.
And then finally, for the litigators listening, there's been a number of reforms introduced, including aggravated damages for competition damages claims and a legislative so called fix to the Supreme Court's recent decision in PACCAR, which ruled that typical funding arrangements with a percentage based return for opt out collective proceedings were damages based agreements which are prohibited under the Competition Act.
Thanks both, I think that's a really helpful summary, and, you know, clearly there's a lot to discuss here. Most of our discussion today I think, is going to focus on the digital markets regime and consumer law provisions but really, these are all seismic changes that will inevitably have a large impact on businesses throughout the UK once they're introduced. So I think with that we're going to start with the digital markets regime.
That's right. So, as we've mentioned, the Bill will enable the CMA to impose a tailored code of conduct where a firm is designated as having strategic market significance. The Commons debate focused on how and to what extent the CMA should be able to exercise its powersand and how to hold the CMS accountable for its decisions.
Hayden, can you talk us through the discussions about the CMA's decision making powers in a little bit more detail?
Sure. So when the Bill was introduced into the House of Commons, concerns were raised that CMA has a very, very broad discretion to designate firms as having SMS and impose conditions on companies and then also levy significant fines for non-compliance.
To try to alleviate some of these sorts of concerns, and the sort of broad discretion that the CMA has, a number of additional so called checks and balances have been included in the Bill. So, in terms of the decision making process, the House of Commons considered in particular, how and by whom, SMS conditions, and enforcement decisions will be made. MPs raised concerns that the Digital Markets Unit within the CMA would have too much power to regulate tech companies, and senior backbenchers proposed amendments such as the Secretary of State appointing the senior director responsible for the DMU and the House of Commons receiving annual statements from the CMA as to the use of those powers.
While this suggestion has not been included in the revised Bill, the government has included some compromises. In particular, the CMA board will not be able to delegate additional categories of decision making powers under the Bill. This includes making enforcement orders (other than initial enforcement orders), accepting commitments, and adopting final offer mechanisms. This is in addition to the powers that are also unable to be delegated by the CMA's board, including beginning an SMS investigation (or undertaking a further SMS investigation) or a pro-competitive intervention investigation, imposing or revoking conduct requirements, making a pro competition intervention order or imposing penalties for non-compliance and the amount of the penalty. So ultimately, the CMA board will be responsible for all significant decisions under the Act, and will certainly have a very increased workload once the Bill is passed.
Another area where additional government oversight has been introduced are the guidelines, which the CMA will publish as to how its digital powers will be used. These must now be approved by the Secretary of State before they are published.
Thanks Hayden. So, another area where we have seen fairly significant amendments so far during the Commons' consideration is in relation to the circumstances and requirements, which the CMA has to have regard to when considering whether to impose conditions or conduct requirements on SMS firms, whether to implement PCIs and the circumstances in which they can consider the countervailing benefits defence.
So in particular, the amendments have made it clear that any proposed conduct requirement that the CMA proposes to implement must be proportionate to achieving the objective (and that can include remedying mitigating or preventing any adverse effect on competition) and the CMA will also need to have regard to the direct and indirect benefits that are likely to result from those conduct requirements.
Though the requirement that the CMA must have proportionately is not particularly surprising, but I think these clarifications are clearly intended to ensure the proportionality is a key limiting principle to the CMA's powers when considering whether to impose what can be what may occur what can be potentially significant restrictions on businesses.
As I said, the Commons has also been considering the countervailing benefits exemption, which is intended essentially to provide a defence that SMS firms can deploy when being investigated for breaches of these conduct conditions. And what the amendment does is make it clear that the benefits that can be pointed to when trying to exercise that defence are essentially only those that cannot be realised absent the conduct that is found to have infringed the relevant conduct requirement.
Another area that's received attention is the final offer mechanism. The CMA can implement the final offer mechanism where an SMS firm and another company fail to agree fair and reasonable terms in breach of a CMA enforcement order, and the CMA cannot satisfactorily address the breach using other functions. Under the amendments accepted in the current draft of the Bill, the CMA now has the discretion to allow for multiple third parties to join together and to make a joint submission as part of a final offer mechanism.
During the report stage, the government indicated that collective bargaining could help to address power imbalances, and that third parties (particularly smaller organisations) may seek to work together when negotiating payment terms and conditions. So we may see these being used by trade or industry associations coming together to negotiate with designated companies.
It's really interesting on this one, Fiona, how this might play out in practice. The process under the Bill, as you mentioned, envisages that groups of third parties, i.e. competitors, can be invited by the CMA to come together and prepare joint submissions on final offer payment terms that the third parties think are fair and reasonable. There's potentially a few clarifications here that might be helpful for the Lords to consider. In particular, the process for third parties to prepare joint submissions may very well be caught by the Chapter I prohibition under the Competition Act, particularly if it involves discussion of commercially or competitively sensitive information. Third parties, I think, will need to be aware of this risk when participating in this joint submission process. And uncertainty on this issue might make third parties less likely or willing to engage in the collective process.
Thanks, Hayden. And then if we move to probably the most hotly debated issue since the Bill was introduced, the appropriate standard of review for CMA decisions in respect of digital platforms. Chris, what's changed in the Commons?
Yes, well as you say, I think this has probably been the most debated issue, certainly over the summer in Parliament, but also actually in the press. Now, originally, the Bill had proposed that both challenges to substantive decisions, and also to penalties, including as regards the level of penalty, would be subject to appeal on JR grounds only, meaning essentially about an appeal would need to establish that there was an error of law in the CMA's decision making process. Now, that's challenging as the bar is set very high and we've seen that in relation to, for example, challenges brought against CMA merger control decisions, which in many cases have been as unsuccessful in the courts.
The House of Commons debated various options, including whether there should be a full merits review process (i.e. akin to the CAT acting as a as a new decision maker) or some form of hybrid JR+, as it's sometimes called, which is sometimes used in relation to certain sectoral regulatory appeals.
But where we've got to is that notwithstanding pressure for some MPs, and as we understand it, lobbying by the industry, the government has essentially decided to retain the JR review standard for substantive decisions so in relation to decisions such as whether to designate a firm as having SMS, whether to impose conduct requirements, whether to make PCIs and in relation to final offer mechanisms. All of those are still challengeable only by way of JR.
But what the government has done is it has moved in relation to the appeals standard for penalties. So under the current Bill, decisions to impose a penalty (and on the level of any penalty) would now be challengeable on their merits in the CAT, essentially meaning that the CAT will be able to make its own decision as to whether a penalty is merited, or indeed, if the amount of proposed by the CMA is proportionate.
And Chris, on the topic of challenging CMA decisions, it's also worth noting that, while CMA decisions may in the review be reviewed, as you said, on JR principles, the recent amendments to the Bill also increases the checks and balances on the CMA's decision making process. So one example of this is that the CMA is now required to provide reasons for imposing a conduct requirement, including why it's proportionate, and the resulting benefits from imposing that conduct requirement. This may well make it easier for firms to challenge the CMA's decision on judicial review grounds, as it will give them a better insight into the decision making process.
It's notable though in the context of any PCI decision that there is no express requirement under the Bill for the CMA to give decisions as to why it has decided to adopt a PCI order. As many listeners will know, while the CMA doesn't have a common law obligation to provide reasons, a failure for providing reasons may well be relevant to any sort of challenge on procedural fairness grounds.
Thanks both, and what are we expecting the Lords to focus on in this area?
So the debate will likely focus on I think the same areas that have already been considered in the Commons. In particular, as Chris flagged, the standard of review on appeal and requirements of the CMA in the decision making processes, there's been a lot of talk about these, and I think it's expected that the Lords will also consider these issues.
It is worth noting, though, that during the Commons Committee stage, the Chair of the Communications and Digital Committee for the House of Lords wrote to the Secretary of State and was broadly supportive of the Bill, and in particular, advised the government against moving away from the judicial review standard for CMA decisions. So it's probably unlikely that the government's stance on the appropriate standard of review will change, but it may nonetheless still be a key topic for discussion in the Lords. Similarly, the Chair was also quite supportive of the countervailing benefits exemption, and expressed support for maintaining quite a high threshold for that to be invoked. So again, I think, a reasonably clear indication that the Lords is unlikely to sort of change the standard of the countervailing benefits exemption being lowered.
Thanks, Hayden. I know there's so much more we could talk about in relation to the new digital regime but if we turn now to the consumer law reforms, Chris, can you remind us what the main changes that are proposed in the Bill are?
Sure, so I mean, as we've said, I think alongside with digital markets revisions, the changes to consumer law enforcement probably are the biggest set and potentially most impactful set of changes introduced by the Bill.
Now, very briefly, as mentioned earlier, the key change really is that the CMA will be given powers to directly enforce consumer law. So rather than being reliant on securing undertakings from companies or seeking court orders to change behaviour, as is currently the case, the CMA will be able to investigate potential breaches, issue infringement decisions, or infringement notices as they're called in the Bill, and to issue fines of up to 10% of worldwide turnover.
But in addition to potentially imposing fines, the CMA will also be able to issue directions to companies, or to impose what are known as enhanced consumer measures. And I think the key points to be aware of here is that these measures can include redress mechanisms. So, in other words, the CMA will be able to require companies to make compensation available to affected consumers. All the decisions taken by the CMA in this in this space, including in relation to penalties or directions will be appealable to the High Court.
And, you know, I think we do expect these changes to have a significant impact on consumer law enforcement in the UK: they're definitely going to lead to an increase in enforcement by the CMA, as well clearly as the potential for significant penalties if companies are found to have got it wrong.
Precisely how that's all going to work, precisely the process by which these investigations will be conducted, how fines will be calculated, and so on, all of that still needs to be fleshed out by the CMA. But I think we do expect that much of the process will resemble the sort of familiar process of investigations carried out by the CMA under its current competition law powers.
Thanks, Chris. I think it's also worth adding that while only the CMA will be able to exercise these direct enforcement powers, other consumer law enforcers (including Trading Standards and sectoral regulators, such as the FCA and Ofcom) will be able to apply to the court for enforcement orders in relation to consumer law infringements. And those enforcement orders will be able to include a requirement to pay a fine as well. Hayden, what does the bill say about private enforcement by consumers?
So, Fiona, the Bill does have measures which aim to make access to an ADR process easier and quicker for consumers but, otherwise, private enforcement by consumers has not been a particular focus of the Bill. During the third reading in the Commons, there was an amendment proposed which would have brought consumer protection law claims within the collective actions regime in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, which would have potentially allowed for opt out claims based on consumer law breaches. This amendment was not accepted by the government but it will be interesting nonetheless, to see if this proposal is resurrected in the Lords.
I think it's also worth noting that the CMA will have the power to require companies to put in place compensation schemes for consumers and I think that's the key point to remember in terms of consumer redress.
Now we've focused mainly on the procedural changes to the consumer law regime so far. But does the bill make any changes to substantive consumer law in the UK?
So I think the short answer is, with some exceptions, not yet but plenty to see.
What the Bill does do is incorporate one of the key pieces of consumer legislation, namely the consumer protection from unfair trading regulations into primary legislation. Now, these regulations include the laws against unfair commercial practices also misleading or aggressive practices and they also include a list of 31 practices that are considered unfair in all circumstances, i.e., there's no need to make an assessment of fairness.
And there really has been a lot of discussion and debate about whether the government should be taking this opportunity, as its restating these regulations, to amend those provisions, in particular by adding new practices to the list of unfair practices and that debate will undoubtedly continue in the Lords.
What the government has done is it has taken a power in the bill to amend that list of unfair practices through secondary legislation. So we can certainly expect changes coming in going forward pursuant to that power. And there's a number of areas that we might see that, so the government is already consulting on including provisions in relation to fake reviews, and this follows work done by the Commission and a reform was recently introduced by the European Commission in its Omnibus Directive.
There have also been suggestions that practices should be added in relation to misleading green claims, or greenwashing. And also in relation to drip pricing. Now, drip pricing is currently a key focus of consumer regulators globally and that's essentially a practice whereby the price that the customer is shown in the early part of the customer journey does not reflect the price it ends up paying because of various obligatory charges or fees that get added along the way.
And amendments to address both of those areas (so both green claims and drip pricing) were in fact proposed in the recent consideration of the Bill, but they have not yet been accepted, have not yet been taken forward, so those provisions are not, as things stand at least, currently part of the Bill.
But as regards drip pricing, in particular, there's a separate consultation ongoing to seek views on how they should be tackled, including potentially by seeking new legal provisions. And as the opposition Labour Party supports taking action, I suspect, sooner rather than later, we will see new provisions being introduced.
The final area that has been discussed I think relates to marketing of counterfeit or dangerous products online. Again, we saw it an amendment put forward in the Commons, but not taken forward at this stage. However, there's the Product Safety Review, which was published in the summer, is already considering proposals to strengthen compliance and enforcement in relation to online marketplaces. And indeed, it's been reported at least but this may will be done by making use of a new powers under the DMCC to add provisions to the list of unfair practices.
So even if as we are speaking today, there hasn't been much changes in the substantive legal terms, we do expect this to change as we move forwards, in particular once the Bill is in force. But equally I think we should certainly expect that these types of debates will continue in the House of Lords.
Just to note, there's one area in which the Bill does make substantive changes to consumer law and that's in relation to subscription contracts. By that we mean contracts which auto renew unless terminated or where, you know, a free trial will roll into a higher price full term contract again unless the consumer takes action to terminate it. And there are a number of provisions in the Bill, including as a result of recent amendments, which essentially seek to ensure that customers are made fully aware of the auto renewal nature, of the auto renewal mechanism, of their contract, and are given sufficiently timely reminders and given sufficient notice to take steps to terminate it, as well as ultimately making it easier for them to cancel that contract.
Thanks, Chris. There's certainly a lot to keep an eye on as this progresses through the House of Lords in relation to consumer law. If we turn now to the other key points from the Bill, one area which hasn't seemed to receive a lot of attention yet is giving the CMA the power to impose penalties of up to 5% of global turnover for failure to comply with orders imposed (or undertakings accepted) at the end of a market investigation, as Hayden mentioned earlier. The possibility of civil penalties has been introduced to reflect concern by the government that the CMA doesn't currently have sufficient powers to ensure companies are complying with these orders. One thing that isn't clear yet is whether fines will be able to be imposed for breaches of existing orders, or only for breaches of orders adopted once the Bill has come into force in future investigations. So concerns have been raised that given the potentially market wide scope, and the technical nature of these types of orders, there is potentially huge scope for firms to incur fines for undertakings agreed or orders imposed years ago at a time when not only were the orders not drafted in a way that's consistent with the penalties regime, but also when penalties weren't contemplated.
Yes, I mean, I think this is a really interesting area, and it remains to be seen whether this will be scrutinised by the Lords. But, you know, there are certainly arguments for limiting the scope of the civil penalties: in particular, what we're talking about is really existing orders, which already set out the potential consequences for breaches, and at that time did not contemplate fines being imposed. So really there's a good argument that the ability to impose those fines should be limited to orders only imposed, as you say Fiona, after the Bill enters into force. One option which could be considered is to limit that power (i.e. the power to impose fines for breaches of those orders) just to material breaches, although that then clearly raises the obvious question about what does material mean in this context, and, you know, that concept would need to be very carefully considered.
So we'll have to wait and see whether the House of Lords picks up on this point, but it's one that we're watching with real interest. Finally, the Bill has also been amended to introduce a number of legislative fixes, really to address recent positions taken by the courts and the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Hayden, do you want to kick us off with litigation funding?
Sure, thanks Fiona. So many listeners will be aware that earlier this year the Supreme Court held that funding arrangements where the return to the fund that is based on a percentage of the award was held to be a damages based agreement, as defined in the Courts and Legal Services Act and where those funding arrangements are a DBA they're required to comply with the Damages Based Agreement Regulations (which most agreements don't) and absent any sort of fallback or saving provisions to an alternative basis for funder to get paid those agreements are void.
The issue was particularly acute for opt out collective actions, which was the type of funding arrangements being considered before the Supreme Court, as the Competition Act expressly precludes damages based agreements from being used to fund these types of claims. Now, the ruling itself was based on a very technical definition in the Courts and Legal Services Act as to what is a damages based agreement and, in particular, as part of that definition, the concept of claims management services, and it effectively found that litigation funders in funding claims provide claims management services.
So the proposed amendment here, which again is made in the context of opt out collective actions only. Seeks to unwind the Supreme Court's decision so that funding arrangements for opt out collective actions can actually be based on a percentage of the return. And notably, these provisions are retrospective and so therefore seek to restore the status quo to a degree.
Yes, and I think the key point here is to a degree. The amendment has been criticised by some for in the addressing litigation funding arrangements for opt out collection of collective actions. The amendments don't go as far as impacting funding arrangements with a percentage based return for opt in collective actions or similar arrangements for non-competition law claims, i.e. litigation funding arrangements outside of the competition regime.
Any litigation funding arrangements with a percentage based return outside of the opt out space must comply with the DBA Regulations, or have an alternative basis on which a funder would get paid such as the percentages of costs incurred, or an uplift of the costs incurred.
It's fair to say also that, based on the amendment, there's also some uncertainty as to whether that whether it goes far enough to actually restore the status quo.
I think this really is an issue that we expect to be considered by the Lords and there is a potential for further changes to be introduced during the report stage. The Bill also covers off some other areas where the CAT has recently handed down decisions that weren't so favourable to the CMA.
Yes, I mean, that's right, Fiona. So first, the Bill introduces amendments to the Competition Act to make it clear that the CMA does have the power to compel foreign companies which have a UK connection to produce information that's held outside the UK. So this follows the CAT's judgment in appeals by BMW and Volkswagen from, I think, earlier this year, which found that the CMA's power to request documents and information did not extend to companies outside the UK.
Now, the amendment was not really unexpected. The CMA has already appealed that decision, and has publicly stated that an inability to obtain information from companies outside the UK, unsurprisingly, it says would significantly hamper its investigatory powers.
Amendments are also proposed in respect of market investigation references. The Bill proposes to allow the CMA to make a reference following a market study, either two years or more after the publication of the market study report, or if there has been a material change in circumstance. The background to this amendment arises from the recent controversy over the CMA's attempt to refer its mobile ecosystems market study to a market investigation using its standalone market investigation powers. It sought to use those powers more than 12 months after the market study notice and despite its earlier decision not to make a reference.
Apple challenged the CMA's decision and, in March this year, the CAT agreed that the CMA's decision was ultra vires. The CAT found that the CMA could not make a reference pursuant to its standalone powers in relation to the same subject matter, and that it was bound by the legislative time limits that applied in respect of the market study consultation.
Interestingly, just last week, after the Bill passed the Commons, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgement which overturned the CAT's decision. The Court of Appeal found that the CMA's standalone power to make a market investigation reference (outside of the market study process) is not time limited simply because the same matter has been considered as part of a market study, which does have time restrictions. As long as the statutory conditions to use the standalone power met and its power exercised for a proper purpose, the Court of Appeal held that the CMA is capable of making a market investigation reference. So the key question now is, will the Court of Appeal's decision impact the amendments included in the Bill, Fiona?
Well, I think it's too early to say at this stage, but it seems unlikely. As you said Hayden, the Court of Appeal decision focuses on the CMA's standalone power, while the amendments address the power to make a reference in the context of a market study. And those amendments will certainly give the CMA more flexibility in carrying out its market investigations, particularly in dynamic markets.
But we've already talked about the new digital regime and it seems likely that the companies that were subject to the mobile ecosystems market study will be designated as having strategic market significance, so issues like this may well be considered under either a tailored code of conduct or a PCI investigation in future. But the market investigations tool is still a significant (and now an even more flexible) tool for the CMA to use to investigate and remedy market wide harms in any sector.
A final area that we wanted to pick up today is changes to the Bill which relate to the motor fuel sector. The CMA had previously published its market study into the road fuel sector and recommended some statutory reforms to remedy perceived failures in respect of motor fuel. Hayden, do you want to pick that up?
Yeah, so very, very briefly, amendments have been introduced into the Bill to give the CMA the power to require companies involved in distribution, supply or retail of motor fuel to provide specified information to the CMA in order to allow it to assess competition and make proposals to the Secretary of State in terms of actions which might increase competition or benefit consumers in the motor fuel sector. So, in effect, the CMA is being given the power to compel these companies to produce information outside of a market study or Competition Act investigations for the next five years, or sort of another way to look at it is that of an almost a rolling market investigation for the next five years in respect of motor fuel and those companies being required to provide information at any point in time.
The amendments also include a bespoke regime of penalties for not complying with those information requests, including penalties of up to 1% of the total value of global turnover, or 5% of daily global turnover, depending on the circumstances. So they potentially have quite significant bite to them. In terms of the sort of the other reforms proposed by the motor fuel study, those are still as we understand it being considered by government.
So I think we're out of time today. Chris, Hayden, thank you so much for joining me today.
Thanks Fiona, it's been great to speak to you.
So as we mentioned earlier today, 5 December, the Bill is due to be read in the Lord's for a second time. The exact timing will invariably depend on the Lords' views on the Bill and whether further amendments are required. In that case, the Bill would then need to go back to the Commons for reconsideration. So ultimately, we're not expecting the Lords to make significant changes to the Bill. Although some of the areas that we've discussed today may change the way in which key aspects of the Bill are applied in practice.
We're obviously going to be following the progress of the DMCC closely, so keep an eye out for future episodes highlighting any further developments.
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