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Singapore – General Court Examines Boundaries Of The European Commission’s Powers To Request Information.

20 August, 2014

 

On 14 March 2014, the General Court (“GC”) dismissed the appeals of various cement companies, who were seeking to challenge the European Commission’s (“EC”) use of powers to request information, in the context of an ongoing cartel investigation against them.


The companies in question – Buzzi Unicem, Cemex, Heidelberg Cement, Holcim, Italmobiliare, and Cementos Portland Valderrivas – appealed on various grounds, including that the EC’s requests were too onerous, and that the requests did not clearly articulate the subject and purpose of the investigation.


In relation to whether the EC ought to have provided further information regarding the subject matter of the investigation, the GC observed that at the investigation stage, the EC does not need to provide all of the elements for an infringement to be established. Rather, the EC must only meet the legal requirements for the use of its powers to request information (ie that it has a reasonable suspicion) that there has been an infringement.


The GC also dismissed the appeals with regard to the information requests being too onerous. Whilst it acknowledged that the requests would place a heavy burden on the parties in question, the burden was proportionate to the investigatory needs of the EC.

However, the GC did uphold a related appeal of Schwenk Zement, finding that the two weeks it was provided to respond to the EC’s requests was unreasonable given the amount of information requested.


In Singapore


The Competition Commission of Singapore (“CCS”) has broad powers to request information from any person, where CCS considers such information relevant to an investigation. In turn, CCS may investigate a matter where it has reasonable grounds for suspecting that a substantive provision of the Competition Act (Cap. 50B) has been infringed. The precise scope of these powers has not been judicially tested. Where justified with good reasons, CCS has previously provided reasonable extensions of time to parties in relation to the collation and submission of requested documents and information.

 

Drew & Napier

 

For further information, please contact:

 

Cavinder Bull, Director, Drew & Napier

cavinder.bull@drewnapier.com

 

Chong Kin Lim, Director, Drew & Napier

chongkin.lim@drewnapier.com

 

Scott Clements, Drew & Napier

scott.clements@drewnapier.com

 

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