Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment competition law public consultation

January 20, 2021

This year new legislation, the Competition (Amendment) Bill 2021, will transpose Directive EU 2019/1 (ECN+ Directive) into Irish law. The purpose of this Directive is to empower the national competition authorities of the EU Member States, such as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), to be more effective enforcers of EU competition law and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market. The ECN+ Directive aims to ensure that national competition authorities have the appropriate tools to enforce EU competition law in a harmonised manner.  More details about how the Directive will change competition law enforcement in Ireland can be found here.

The upcoming Competition (Amendment) Bill 2021 also includes amendments to existing competition legislation, which are outside the scope of the ECN+ Directive. The purpose of these amendments is to further bolster the CCPC’s powers in the enforcement of EU and Irish competition law and the statutory merger review regime.

The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (DETE) is seeking views from interested parties on these additional legislative amendments.

These include:

  • Providing for a specific offence of ‘bid-rigging’ which is a serious form of anti-competitive behaviour that occurs when a number of suppliers agree not to bid against one-another for a tender or contract. In these cases, the winning tender price may be higher than the price that would be reached through competitive tendering. Bid-rigging also reduces the range of goods and services that consumers can choose from.
  • Providing for the CCPC to bring summary prosecutions in respect of ‘gun jumping’ offences. Under Irish law, proposed mergers or acquisitions which reach certain financial thresholds in the State must be notified to the CCPC before they are put into effect. Failure to notify any such merger or acquisition to the CCPC, or putting it into effect before receiving clearance from the CCPC, is referred to as “gun-jumping” and is a criminal offence under Irish law. Currently, only the Director of Public Prosecutions can bring prosecutions for “gun-jumping” offences.
  • Providing for the CCPC, when investigating serious criminal breaches of competition law and under specific conditions, have powers to (i) carry out video and audio surveillance and (ii) to require interception and recording of electronic communications attached to such powers
  • Other amendments relating to the operation of the statutory merger review regime.

The deadline for responding to the Department’s consultation is 5pm, Friday 29 January 2021. Further details of the consultation are available on the Department’s website.

The CCPC encourages any interested parties to consider making a submission in response to the Department’s consultation.

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