Udayavni Special

CCI extends deadline for comments on proposed changes to confidentiality regime


PTI, May 18, 2021, 6:55 PM IST

New Delhi: Competition Commission has extended the deadline for submission of comments on the proposed changes to norms pertaining to confidentiality requests made by parties concerned during proceedings under the competition law.

In April, the watchdog said the changes have been proposed as the present practice and procedure are highly onerous and unsatisfactory not only for the parties but also for the regulator which has caused unnecessary litigation and delays in concluding the inquiry.

Public comments on the proposed changes were sought till May 12 and now, the deadline has been extended till June 12.

”… all concerned may note that having considered the requests made by various stakeholders for extension of time due to the difficulties arising in the wake of COVID-19, the Commission has extended the time for submission of comments from the public by one month,” an official release said on Tuesday.

Under the competition law, there is a statutory restriction on disclosure of certain information during a proceeding in order to maintain the sanctity of the information relating to any enterprise.

The watchdog has proposed changes to regulations regarding the extant confidentiality regime. The regime provides a detailed mechanism to deal with the confidentiality request made by the parties and provides the procedure and the parameters for such claims.

The current practice of filing of pleadings in two versions – confidential and non-confidential – would continue but on a ”self-certified basis,” stating and undertaking categorically that such versions have been prepared in accordance with the parameters for seeking confidentiality as per the new regulation.

”This would obviate the need for determination of confidentiality claims and the consequent appeals arising therefrom and would result in swifter disposal of inquiries,” according to CCI.

Among others, the existing regime which enables the informant to seek confidentiality over its identity on merely making a request in writing is also proposed to be done away with.

The regulator has also proposed setting up of a ”confidentiality ring” which will comprise authorised representatives (internal and external) of the parties who would be able to review the entire case records in an unredacted form, subject to appropriate undertakings against disclosure.

”Such a mechanism would enable all the parties to have access to all the relevant documents and at the same time, would also ensure that the business-sensitive or commercially sensitive information is protected against disclosure to any unauthorised person which may include officials and/ or employees of their competitors… or any other person whatsoever,” according to the regulator.

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