Chapter 7: Conclusions: ‘Article 6-proofing’ EC Competition Proceedings?
INTRODUCTION The previous chapters discussed the current standards governing the notion of a ‘fair procedure’ enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and Community law. With respect to the ECHR, the analysis of the case law indicated that, given the silence of the Convention, the Strasbourg Court constructed the notion of a ‘fair administrative procedure’ on the basis of the purposive interpretation of Article 6(1) ECHR and particularly of an extensive reading of the concepts of ‘determination of civil rights’ and ‘criminal charge’.1 The ECJ instead elaborated the basic tenets of that notion on the basis of the general principles of EC law and especially of the constitutional traditions common to the laws of the Member States.2 Having regard to competition proceedings, secondary legislation as well as administrative practices played a significant part in setting out rules governing hearings, access to the file and the protection of confidentiality of documents submitted to the Commission during both antitrust and merger control proceedings. The case law of the Community courts has also contributed to the current standards for the protection of the procedural rights of investigated firms by emphasising the importance of an effective right to be heard and to obtain access to the Commission’s case file in accordance with the principle of ‘equality of arms’ as well as the scope of its power of judicial review of both antitrust and merger decisions. However, the comparative analysis conducted in the earlier chapters illustrated that there are still significant areas of...
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