British Antitrust in Action

The Restrictive Trade Practices Act of 1956 was the first positive anti-monopoly statute in the United Kingdom since the Statute of Monopolies in 1623. Now that the statute has been in effect four years there are sufficient decisions and consent orders to make possible a report on its operation. Since most American readers are unfamiliar with the legal and economic background of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, the prior common law in this area and the 1948 monopolies investigation statute will be summarized first. This summary is followed by an analysis of the structure of the 1956 Act, of the nine decisions in litigated cases and of the consent orders. The conclusion will evaluate the effectiveness of the act and contrast it with comparable United States statutes.