In May last year we blogged about CMA guidance materials for local authorities and retailers on the competition issues that can arise from schemes aimed at reducing the consumption of high-strength alcohol. 

The CMA last week issued a reminder on the risks such high-strength alcohol schemes pose from a competition perspective, suggesting concerns that its previous warning went unheeded. The CMA's press release indicates this may stem from continuing industry complaints.

However, the reminder states that the CMA will consider taking enforcement action against such schemes in "narrow circumstances", including where a scheme is being used as a cover for price-fixing or information sharing on future pricing intentions by competing retailers. So:

  • if you are a retailer considering whether to join such a scheme, make sure your decision to do so is reached independently without discussion or agreement with competitors;
  • if you are a local authority, be aware that your scheme should not give retailers an opportunity to fix prices or share pricing information.

For more on these principles, and the risks of getting competition law wrong, see our previous post or feel free to get in touch.