August / September 1999

United Kingdom: Competition Commission and OFT consult on transparency

01 August 1999

Greater transparency in competition authority proceedings impacts in a number of ways. As the OFT suggests, revealing the rationale underlying decisions may allow parties greater opportunities for successful appeal against adverse decisions. However, transparency at early stages of inquiries may well have potentially damaging and unjustifiable effects on the interested parties. Publication of extensive provisional issues could result in unnecessary concern and distortion in the relevant markets because of inaccurate or misleading reporting or misinterpretation of the provisional nature of the issues. Similarly, publication of hypothetical remedies before conclusions have been drawn may lead to market reaction and expectations that are neither rational nor justified. The practical benefits of an open hearing are yet to be seen. Ultimately, it is important that the implementation of policy objectives for transparency are considered carefully alongside the legitimate concerns of interested parties so that a balance is effectively maintained.