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By largest School Management Information System Software provider in England & Wales.
In April 2022, the body responsible for enforcing competition law in the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (the “CMA”) launched an investigation into whether Education Software Solutions Limited (“ESS”) had infringed the competition regime.
ESS, the largest provider of school management information systems software in England and Wales, had brought in a contract change, requiring its customers to move from their existing one-year contracts to new three-year contracts, without giving them sufficient time to consider their options, for example whether to switch to an alternative software provider.
The CMA was concerned that such conduct by ESS reduced the customers’ choice of software provider and made it more difficult for ESS’ competitors to enter the market which, if proven, would amount to an abuse of its dominant position in breach of Chapter II of the Competition Act 1998.
ESS has since offered certain “commitments” to the CMA. A commitment is a binding promise from a business relating to its future conduct and can be made at any time during a CMA investigation up until a decision on infringement is made. Where the CMA is satisfied that the commitments address the competition concerns, the CMA may accept the commitments and close its investigation. By its commitments, ESS has offered to allow its customers to apply for a break-clause allowing them to exit their three-year contracts and move to a new provider. The CMA is currently consulting on the proposals and, if accepted, the investigation will be closed. The offer and acceptance of commitments is not an admission or acceptance of liability; the investigation is brought to an end on the basis of the commitments and without any finding of infringement