Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin
The Competition and Consumer Enforcement Bulletin is where Ofcom publishes information about our investigations into breaches of regulatory rules under the Communications Act, consumer protection legislation, disputes between communications providers and competition law. Using the links below you can find out more about the Competition Investigations Team the Consumer Affairs Team and find details of our current and past investigations.
Cases in compliance
New and open cases:
The Bulletin records details of new cases as and when they are launched with further information added as the cases progress. These cases include complaints, disputes and programmes to monitor the industry’s compliance with Ofcom’s regulations. You can see a full list of open cases.
When concluding an investigation Ofcom may impose new rules or conditions on one or more company and embark on a programme of monitoring to ensure compliance with these rules or conditions. Details of cases that are currently being monitored for compliance.
When a case is concluded the outcome of cases will be published alongside the rest of the information relating to the case and the case will be listed as a closed case. You can see a full list of closed cases.
Cases being appealed:
The outcome of an Ofcom investigation can be challenged by appealing to the Competition Appeals Tribunal. If an appeal has been lodged with the Competition Appeals Tribunal then this will be noted in the Bulletin under the case being appealed.
From time to time, other relevant information will be included in the Bulletin.
Competition Pro Bono Scheme. The scheme offers free independent legal advice to individuals or businesses who believe that their rights under competition law have been infringed or who are concerned that they may be infringing. Further details on the scheme are available at: http://www.probonogroup.org.uk/competition/
Prior to March 2003
You can also access issues of the Competition Bulletin from before 1 March 2003, which were produced by Oftel (Ofcom’s predecessor in the telecoms market) on a quarterly basis.
The role of the Investigations Team is to identify any areas of concern regarding communications providers’ compliance with a range of rules relating to competition between communications companies and disputes between communications providers under section 185 of the Communications Act 2003. The role of the Consumer Affairs Team is to ensure that regulatory rules relating to consumers’ rights are adhered to. If an area of concern relating to these rules is identified, either by Ofcom itself or by complaints made to us by customers, communications providers or other relevant organisations, the Teams will evaluate the evidence and, if necessary, take enforcement action against the relevant company.
It is obviously not possible for us to investigate every complaint or dispute, so in general the team prioritises issues that may be of widespread concern to consumers, significantly impact competition in communications markets, or is a dispute between companies that cannot be solved effectively through any other means. Further details on our criteria for accepting cases are set out in Ofcom's Approach to Complaints and Disputes (PDF, 373.9 KB).
We also have teams dedicated to investigations and enforcement actions relating to spectrum (such as radio or television interference) and broadcasting content and standards.
What to do if you have a complaint
Consumers: If you are a customer of a communications provider and you have a complaint about their service you should visit our Advice for Consumers pages. These pages provide information on common problems and how to deal with them. If you have a very specific query and cannot find the answer you can contact Ofcom’s Advisory Team.
Companies and Organisations: If you think you need to make a complaint about a communications provider breaching their legal obligations you should read Ofcom's Approach to Complaints and Disputes (PDF, 373.9 KB). It is worth noting that Ofcom does not tend to get involved in contractual disputes between businesses and their communications provider. If you have further queries about how to submit a complaint, please contact the Investigations Team on 020 7783 4100.
Communications Providers: If you are a communications provider and think you need to refer a dispute with another communications provider to Ofcom you should also read Ofcom's Approach to Complaints and Disputes (PDF, 373.9 KB). If you need further information about how to submit a complaint, please contact the Investigations Team at email@example.com
Investigations Team Targets
We have a range of statutory and voluntary timescales in which we aim to complete our investigations. We publish information on our performance against these targets in a six-monthly round-up of the activity of the Investigations Team.
Comments are welcome on any of the cases that the Investigations Team is working on, especially new cases where extra industry input would be useful and cases where remedies are proposed. If you would like to comment on a case, or enquire as to the progress of a case, please contact the relevant case leader whose name and contact details are listed on each case’s Bulletin entry.
Alternatively, comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 020 7783 4109, or posted to:
Competition Group Operations Team
2a Southwark Bridge Road
Please mark comments for the attention of the relevant case leader (who is named on the relevant Bulletin entry). In supplying comments you should indicate whether you are prepared to let us disclose the full details of the information supplied, including whether you are willing to be identified, in any subsequent correspondence Ofcom has with the party under investigation or with other interested parties. Confidential material should be marked as such and not sent via the Internet address. It should be noted that Ofcom's experience has shown that it can be difficult to pursue a case successfully if we are not able to provide all the necessary information to the subject of the complaint.
If you are consumer wishing to make a complaint about a communication provider can be found here.
Ofcom has produced guidance setting out our powers and the processes we will follow in conducting investigations into adherence with regulatory rules, consumer protection issues, competition issues and resolving regulatory disputes.
Approach to enforcement
- Enforcement guidelines for regulatory investigations (PDF, 1.6 MB)
- Enforcement guidelines for Competition Act investigations (PDF, 1007.1 KB)
- Procedures for investigating breaches of competition-related conditions in Broadcasting Act licences (PDF, 784.7 KB)
- Advice for complainants (PDF, 186.1 KB)
- Penalty guidelines
- Dispute resolution guidelines - June 2011 (PDF, 276.7 KB)
- Postal disputes supplement - April 2012 (PDF, 50.7 KB)
- Payment of costs and expenses in regulatory disputes - September 2013 (PDF, 128.9 KB)
- ATI dispute resolution guidelines – December 2016 (PDF, 555.5 KB)
Approval of Redress Schemes under the Competition Act 1998
As a result of changes made to the Competition Act 1998 by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and supplemented by the Competition Act 1998 (Redress Scheme) Regulations 2015, from 1 October 2015 the CMA and the sector regulators with concurrent competition powers, including Ofcom, have new powers to approve certain voluntary redress schemes in cases involving the infringement of competition law.
Where a business offers a redress scheme, those affected by the infringement are able to claim compensation through such a scheme without the need to pursue litigation in the courts.
The CMA and the concurrent regulators are required to publish guidance on the handling of applications made to them for the approval of redress schemes.
In August 2015 the CMA published guidance on voluntary redress schemes. Ofcom has been fully consulted on the contents of the guidance and has decided to adopt the guidance in relation to redress schemes in competition cases affecting those sectors where Ofcom has concurrent competition powers, namely in communications sectors including broadcasting, telecommunications and postal services.