CMA costs case improves access to justice


CMA costs case improves access to justice

nitpicker /

The UK Supreme Court ruling involving Pfizer and Flynn is important for any company considering an appeal against the regulator, say Sophie Lawrance and James Batsford of Bristows.

On May 25, 2022, the UK Supreme Court (UKSC) handed down its judgment ([2022] UKSC 14) in the joint appeals of Pfizer and Flynn (the Appellants) against a costs ruling by the Court of Appeal (the COA Costs Ruling). 

The Court of Appeal’s decision ([2020] EWCA Civ 617) had meant that public bodies and regulators such as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) would not typically be required to pay the costs of a party successfully appealing one of their infringement decisions. 

However, the UKSC, with Lady Rose giving the lead judgment, allowed the appeal thereby confirming that the CMA is not as a matter of principle exempt from paying successful appellants’ costs. The judgment confirmed that the key criterion for assessing when a regulator may be protected from costs exposure is where requiring it to pay the successful party’s costs would give rise to a chilling effect on the regulator’s statutory activities.

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