UK Business Regulations

Understand the regulatory matters that need to be considered before starting a business in the UK...

The Regulatory Environment

While various EU rules impact on trade in general, the UK attaches great importance to free competition. As a result:

  • price controls are not imposed (other than on certain regulated sectors)
  • there is a complete absence of exchange controls
  • in general, no restrictions are imposed on foreign ownership or investment

Businesses in the UK can be impacted by numerous regulations including but not limited to:

  • health and safety (of employees, consumers and the general public)
  • certain technical standards (e.g. to guarantee quality and inter-operability)
  • product liability
  • anticorruption
  • advertising and the environment
  • data protection
  • EU and UK competition rules
  • Financial Services Association regulatory requirements

It is recommended you take professional advice to ensure all appropriate regulations are identified and complied with.

Additional regulations

Amongst other industry sectors, financial Services and certain utilities are subject to additional regulations. These may include:

  • regulations on certain anticompetitive practices
  • requirements to treat customers fairly

Sanctions include:

  • fines based on the turnover of the business
  • custodial sentences for executives (but only where there has been a flagrant breach of the regulations, such as price fixing)

In addition, the Financial Services industry is strictly regulated in the UK by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 as amended (FSMA) and its subsidiary legislation.

Two independent public bodies have prime responsibility for ensuring that markets function effectively, consumers are treated fairly, and EU and UK competition law is enforced.These are:

  • The Office of Fair Trading, which is the UK's consumer and competition authority
  • The Competition Commission, which conducts in-depth inquiries into mergers and markets when necessary
Information supplied by PriceWaterhouseCoopers PWC, 1 Embankment Place, London, WC2N 6RH Contact: Mike Curran | Tel: 0207 213 8190 | e-mail or Dipan Shah | Tel: 0207 804 0685 | e-mail