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Balancing Efficiency and Challenges: Proposed Amendments to CCI’s Confidentiality Regime

Introduction

The Competition Commission of India (‘CCI’) has proposed certain amendments to the CCI (General) Regulations 2009 (‘general regulations’). To refine its processes, the CCI has invited stakeholders to submit their written feedback on these proposed changes within a 30-day period, from 26.02.2024 to 27.03.2024.

Understanding Current Regulations

Before delving into the proposed amendments, it is crucial to understand the context and content of the existing regulations:

  • Reg. 35 addresses confidentiality protocols, allowing parties to request confidentiality for sensitive information, crucial for preserving trade secrets or commercial interests.

  • Reg. 37 delineates the procedures for inspecting documents during CCI proceedings, facilitating access to pertinent documents for parties and external entities, subject to certain conditions and fees.

  • Reg. 50 sets the fee structure for inspecting case-related records, which has been static since 2009.

Previously, the CCI amended reg. 35 in April 2022, introducing a revised confidentiality regime aimed at expediting the process and reducing delays by allowing parties to self-certify confidential information under specified conditions. This amendment also introduced the concept of a Confidentiality Ring (‘CR’), permitting authorized representatives access to unredacted information under strict conditions to safeguard sensitive data.

Analysis of Proposed Changes

Despite these changes, the CCI observed significant delays by parties in meeting the procedural requirements for the CR, which has prompted further proposed amendments to regs. 35, 37, and 50. These amendments aim to streamline the process further by:

  • Implementing clear timelines for accessing documents through the CR and for the submission of undertakings in the form of affidavits, although specific numerical time limits have not been provided.

  • Revising the fee structure under reg. 50(1) for inspection to reflect inflationary changes since 2009.

Potential Challenges and Considerations

While these proposed amendments are a step towards enhancing procedural efficiency, they also present challenges, particularly for international parties who may face difficulties with the time-consuming processes of document consularisation. The potential clash between stringent CCI timelines and the practical realities of international legal compliance could introduce additional complexities.

Conclusion

The CCI’s effort to amend its confidentiality regime is commendable for its intention to streamline processes, ensure timely proceedings, and update fee structures to align with the current economic conditions. However, the success of these amendments will largely depend on the ability to balance procedural rigour with the practical challenges faced by stakeholders, especially those from foreign jurisdictions. The CCI may need to consider providing guidance or additional mechanisms to accommodate the unique needs of international parties to ensure that the objectives of these amendments are fully realized without undue burden.

Authored by Shivam Mishra, Advocate at Metalegal Advocates. The views expressed are personal and do not constitute legal opinion.

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