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Regulator warns of increasing data demands

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Competition Commissioner Peter Freeman is warning UK companies to expect more demands for data and a more formal and combative approach to regulation.

The regulator made 25 disclosure orders in the year to March compared to just three in the year before. Freeman said the change was to bring them more into line with European regulators.

Freeman said companies should expect more of the same as the commission takes a more aggressive approach to its work. The Competition Commission will more often seize emails in order to get an insight into companies' behaviour.

Freeman told the FT that in some ways he regretted the end of the regulator's more informal approach, but it was necessary because some companies misled it or were more defensive than in the past because of fears of litigation.

The commission is currently investigating the grocery market, mobile phone termination charges, as well as BAA - the airport operator which has made such a good job of opening Heathrow's Terminal 5.

The commission works in tandem with the Office of Fair Trading, assisted by the Competition Appeal Tribunal. It launches investigations at the prompting of other regulators. A review of its practises in 2007 concluded it should make greater use of electronic data in its investigations. ®

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