Office of Fair Trading

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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is the UK's consumer and competition authority and is a non-ministerial government department established by statute in 1973. They pursue their mission to "make markets work well for consumers"[1]:

  • encouraging businesses to comply with competition and consumer law and to improve their trading practices through self-regulation
  • acting decisively to stop hardcore or flagrant offenders
  • studying markets and recommending action where required
  • empowering consumers with the knowledge and skills to make informed choices and get the best value from markets, and helping them resolve problems with suppliers through Consumer Direct[2].


Board members

[3]

  • Philip Collins, Chairman of the Board. Collins became Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading on 1 October 2005. He is a solicitor who has practised in the UK and EU competition law field for more than 30 years, initially in London and latterly in Brussels. He was formerly a partner in Lovells where, in 1978, he was the first partner appointed to specialise in competition law. With the subsequent development of the practice, he was made head of the firm's competition and EU law practice. Subsequently, and until 30 September 2005, he was Senior Counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, based in Brussels. He was one of the founders of the Competition Law Forum established at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and a member of its Advisory Board from its foundation in 2002 until 2005. He is also a member of the Editorial Board of the European Competition Journal.
  • John Fingleton, Chief Executive. Became Chief Executive of the OFT in October 2005 for a five year term. He had previously been Chairperson of the Irish Competition Authority since May 2000. Fingleton is Chair of the Association of Competition Economics, and represents the UK on the Competition Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He also sits on the board of several journals that specialise in competition policy. Fingleton studied economics at Trinity College, Dublin and Nuffield College Oxford. He taught economics at Trinity College, Dublin from 1991 to 2000 and held visiting positions at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles (1995) and the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago (1998-2000).
  • Jonathan May is an Executive Director of the OFT Board. He is also Executive Director of Policy and Strategy. Previously, he was the first director of the Markets and Policy Initiatives Division. He joined the OFT at the end of 2001 following two and a half years as Director of UK Competition Policy at the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform where he was responsible for developing strategy on competition policy. Before his secondment to the Department he worked at the Treasury with public expenditure responsibility for Home Office and overseas aid policies, later handling competition, utility regulation and energy issues.
  • Sean Williams became Executive Director of Markets and Projects on 4 June 2007. The Markets and Projects Area of the OFT is responsible for the enforcement of consumer and competition law in UK markets. Sean will lead OFT’s new converged approach to delivering whole market solutions, to making markets work well for consumers. The Area is engaged in a wide variety activities including market studies and investigations, mergers, cartels and other competition law investigations (including super-complaints), consumer law investigations, and the regulation of consumer credit providers and estate agents. Sean joined the OFT from Ofcom where he was Executive Director and Competition Partner responsible for the development and enforcement of economic regulation and competition policies in communications markets. In particular he led Ofcom’s transformation of fixed line telecoms regulation, including the operational separation of BT. Sean is also a non-executive director of Williams Lea Holdings plc, an international business services company of 10,000 employees. From 1997 to 2003 he was a partner of LEK Consulting, a strategy consulting firm, where he advised on competition and business strategy issues. He was also a special adviser in the Prime Minister's Policy Unit from 1995 to 1997.
  • Lord Norman Blackwell, Non-executive member. He is non-executive Chairman of Interserve plc and a non-executive Director of Standard Life plc and Slough Estates plc. He is also an adviser to KPMG Corporate Finance, and Chairman of the Centre for Policy Studies. From 1995 to 1997 he was Head of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit in 10 Downing Street, following which he was Director of Group Development, NatWest Group, from 1997-2000. Political activity in the last five years: Conservative Peer, House of Lords. Canvassed and addressed meetings for the Conservative Party.


  • Richard Whish, Non-executive member. Professor of Law at Kings College, London where he has worked since 1991. His professional career has been devoted to competition law and policy and has written extensively on competition law matters. He was in practice, as a partner, with responsibility for the competition law practice from 1989 to 1998, and continues to act as a consultant on competition law. He has extensive experience of advising Governments and NGOs on the development of competition law. Other Government appointments: he was a member of the Director General of Fair Trading's Advisory Panel since it was formed in 2001. The advisory panel ceased to be an establishment of the Board.


OFT Audit Committee

[4]

  • Nigel Matthews, Chairman of Audit Committee. For 25 years until his retirement in November 2001, Matthews was the Group Secretary of J Sainsbury plc. A lawyer by training, Nigel was responsible for relations with the regulatory authorities and was closely involved with competition and trading standards matters. He served on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission from 1991 to 1997 and on a number of government and trade committees. He was awarded the OBE in 2000 for services to the food retail industry. As well as chairing the Audit Committee, Nigel serves as a governor of the University of Hertfordshire and a trustee of the National Grocers' Benevolent Fund.
  • Geoffrey Owen has been Senior Fellow at the Institute of Management, London School of Economics since 1996, following five years as Director of Business Policy at the Centre for Economic Performance, LSE. Previously, he was editor of the Financial Times for nine years. His other posts include journalist and deputy editor at the FT and executive with British Leyland Motor Corporation. In addition to being a member of the Audit Committee he also serves as non-executive director for The Laird Group; chairman of the Wincott Foundation; and was a member of the OFT's Advisory Committee, 2001-2003. His publications include Industry in the USA (Penguin 1967), and From Empire to Europe: the decline and recovery of British industry since the second world war (HarperCollins 1999).
  • Christine Wade was appointed Director of OFT Consumer Enforcement Division in July 2003. Prior to this, she was Director of Co-regulation and Co-ordination within the division. Before moving to the OFT she was Head of Essex Trading Standards, having worked in a variety of trading standards departments since leaving University in 1975. Christine was Chair of the Society of Chief Trading Standards Officers in 2000/01 and was awarded the MBE for her services to trading standards in the 2002 New Year's Honours.


References

  1. ^Office of Fair Trade About the Office of Fair Trading
  2. ^Ibid
  3. ^Office of Fair Trade OFT Board
  4. ^Office of Fair Trade OFT Audit Committee - members
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