It seems it is slowly beginning to dawn on the Commission that there is something wrong with its antitrust proceedings: Lack of due process; No independent review of the evidence; Confusion between decision-making and investigative powers and so on.
One major complaint is the general fickleness of the procedure.
The Commission seeks to remedy some problems by increasing awareness of how its current procedures actually work and inviting comments. To that end it has published a series of documents describing its "Best Practices" in antitrust proceedings and setting out guidance on the role of the Hearing Officers.
The Commission concedes that it may need to amend its procedures in the following respect:
- earlier open formal proceedings earlier, as soon as the initial assessment phase has been concluded;
- offer "state of play" meetings to the parties at key points of the proceedings
- disclose key submissions, including giving early access to the complaint, so that parties can already express their views in the investigative phase
- announce publicly the opening and closure of procedures, as well as when Statement of Objections have been sent
- give guidance on how the new instrument of commitment procedures is used in practice.
The Commission has also published guidance on the presentation of economic evidence by the parties so that the evidence submitted can be more useful and germane.
You can find a press release on this here.
Comments from the public are invited by March 3rd 2010.
All very worthy, no doubt, but will the fundamental problems be addressed ?