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Regulator given more power


Winsor's regulatory regime was extended dramatically two weeks ago with the introduction of the Competition Act.

The Act prohibits anti-competitive agreements between companies and abuse of a dominant market position. It also gives the Regulator powers to 'raid' offices to seize evidence of Competition Act violations. Companies found guilty could face fines of up to 10% of their turnover over the past three years.

'In the interface between Railtrack and its suppliers, there are two potential areas of difficulty,' warns Winsor. 'Railtrack could abuse its dominant position as the only buyer through oppressive conduct of various kinds. Or its suppliers could engage in price fixing, market sharing anti-competitive practices in their relations with Railtrack.'

He adds that if people believe that anti-competitive practices or abuse of a dominant position are taking place then they should tell him. 'But I don't want every disgruntled contractor thinking the Rail Regulator is the panacea for all ills.'

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