THE MONOPOLIES COMMISSION AND HIGH STREET MERGERS*

AuthorJ. F. Pickering
Publication Date01 February 1971
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9485.1971.tb00974.x
Date01 February 1971
THE MONOPOLIES COMMISSION
AND HIGH STREET MERGERS*
J.
F.
PICKERING
I
INTRODUCTION
In his study of the work of the Monopolies Commission, Sutherland
(1969)
concludes that in evaluating the decisions reached by the Commission
in
the various merger references
it
has reported
upon,
because
no
logic is
visible, it is not possible to distinguish between inconsistency of approach
and different assessments of the evidence in various cases’. This paper offers
a comparative analysis of the reports
on
two proposed mergers that appeared,
on
the face
of
it,
to have a considerable degree of similarity between them.
It is argued that in certain important respects the Commission
is
open to
criticism
on
the grounds of inconsistency in its approach to these cases and
suggested that here at least the charge of inconsistency might
be
levelled
more firmly at the Commission than Alister Sutherland found possible.
The
two
cases concerned are the proposed mergers between United
Drapery Stores Ltd. (U.D.S.) and Montague
Burton
Ltd.
(Burton)a and
Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd. (Thorn) and Radio Rentals Ltd. (Radio
Rentals)’. For convenience they will be referred to
as
the ‘clothing’ and
television rentals
cases respectively. Distribution interests were important
in
both mergers and consideration of the public interest aspects of the cases
appeared to turn largely on their effects on the distribution of the goods
and services involved. The investigations were carried out within the short
space
of
nine months of each other
in
1967
and
1968
by groups
of
eight
members of the Commission, five of whom signed both reports. The clothing
merger was held likely to be contrary to the public interest and the television
rentals merger was approved.
In
each case, one member dissented from
the majority view. The Commissioner who dissented
on
television rentals
was one of the five who signed both reports and he therefore opposed both
mergers. The other four members who participated in both enquiries opposed
the former but approved the latter merger.
*Various people have made helpful comments on an earlier draft of
this
paper which are gratefully acknowledged.
The
author remains solely responsible
for
the
opinions expressed herein.
The Commission is, however, criticised for inconsistency in
some
of
it0
dominant
firm
enquiries.
Monopolies Commission
(1967).
Monopolies Commission
(1968).
69

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT