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Competition

Mandate of the Hearing Officer in competition cases expanded and new Officers appointed

30.11.2012

PR(12)76

The Authority has adopted a decision revising the function and terms of reference of the Hearing Officer in certain competition proceedings. The new measure is aimed at strengthening the mechanisms for safeguarding the procedural rights of parties in proceedings under Articles 53 and 54 of the EEA Agreement.

The revised mandate of the Hearing Officer strengthens and expands the Hearing Officer's role. The Hearing Officer is independent from the case handling services and plays a crucial role as the guardian of procedural rights in competition procedures.

If parties have a dispute about their procedural rights they can refer the matter to the Hearing Officer, who will have an enhanced role throughout the entire proceedings.

Key developments include:

  • Strengthened role in the preparation and conduct of oral hearings.
  • Reports will cover the effective exercise of procedural rights throughout the proceedings, including the investigation phase.
  • The new mandate expressly empowers parties to refer matters to the Hearing Officer in antitrust commitment proceedings.

The Hearing Officer also has some new functions during the investigation phase, and in particular:

  • Resolving issues regarding the confidentiality of communications between companies and their external lawyers (legal professional privilege).
  • Intervening when a company considers that it has not been informed of its procedural status.
  • Parties will be able to refer the matter to the Hearing Officer if they feel that they should not be compelled to reply to questions that might force them to admit to an infringement.
  • Intervening in disputes as to the extension of deadlines to reply to requests for information.

The Authority has appointed Ms. Clémence Perrin and Ms. Auður Steinarsdóttir as Hearing Officers.

The decision on the revised mandate can be found here.

For further information, please contact

Mr. Markus Schneider
Deputy Director Legal and Executive Affairs
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 1884





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