French Competition Authority Publishes Feedback On Its Leniency Programme

Author:Van Bael Bellis
Profession:Van Bael & Bellis

On 15 April 2014, the French Competition Authority (FCA) published a study summarising comments it received on its leniency programme. The Authority received feedback from approximately 40 to 50 lawyers and undertakings.

Overall, both lawyers and undertakings approve the leniency programme, although undertakings find the reduction of their fine to be insufficient and consider the investment cost linked to the leniency application to be high. Lawyers equally criticise the length of the procedure and the legal uncertainty in the programme.

More specifically, undertakings and lawyers agree that the most important reasons to seek leniency are (i) the reduction of the fine, (ii) an earlier application for leniency before another competition authority, and (iii) inspections. Undertakings point out that (i) the cumbersomeness of the procedure, (ii) criminal prosecution, and (iii) civil actions are the most significant deterrents for leniency.

A major practical difficulty encountered by leniency applicants appears to be the collection of information necessary to complete the application. The obligation to put an end to the anti-competitive behaviour can create additional difficulties. Lawyers point out that obtaining the cooperation of former employees can be challenging, as is the necessity to conceal the company's plan to seek leniency while carrying out interviews with the...

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