OFT – launches revised procedures guidance for Competition Act
OFT’s revised procedures guidance for Competition Act
The OFT today set out new decision-making processes and procedural enhancements to boost the speed and robustness of Competition Act 1998 investigations and increase engagement with parties involved. The updated guidance on Competition Act 1998 procedures follows a consultation process launched in March 2012. It updates the OFT’s guidance originally published in March 2011, including by providing for:
– Collective decision-making, with final decisions on infringement and penalty to be taken by a three person ‘case decision group’.
– In cases where the OFT is considering finding an infringement and imposing a financial penalty, the ability for parties to make representations on key elements of the OFT’s proposed penalty calculation, after they have made representations on matters of substance, but ahead of the final decision being taken.
– More interactive oral hearings, to provide greater opportunity for direct dialogue between parties to an investigation and the decision-makers on the case, as well as additional ‘state of play’ meetings.
– Publishing case opening notices and case-specific administrative timetables on the OFT’s website to improve transparency of ongoing investigations under the Competition Act 1998.
As part of the follow up from its March consultation, the OFT is also extending the trial of its Procedural Adjudicator role until the OFT’s Competition Act 1998 enforcement powers transfer to the new Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in April 2014.
It believes that its trial of a Procedural Adjudicator role, which started in March 2011, has been a success to date, resolving disputes in relation to certain procedural issues in a swift, efficient and cost-effective manner.
Jackie Holland, OFT Senior Director of Policy, said:
“Our updated Competition Act procedural guidance reflects the lessons we have learnt from past cases, external feedback and international best practice.
“We believe these changes will enhance the robustness and efficiency of our Competition Act cases, as well as resulting in better interaction with parties to investigations and improving the transparency of our work.”
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