Answer ... The general rule is that PCA proceedings are public (Article 32(1) of the Competition Act), and that anyone with a legitimate interest can consult the proceedings (Article 33(3)), subject to redaction of confidential documents.
However, the PCA may decide that a case will be kept confidential if it considers that publicity would harm the investigation, or if it considers (on its own initiative or in response to a request from the target company) that the rights of the party concerned in the case so determine.
As its general practice, the PCA keeps investigations confidential and subject to judicial secrecy until the final decision has been adopted. Nevertheless, when the PCA carries out dawn raids, it sometimes (eg, if there has been a leak to the press) issues a press release stating that it has conducted a dawn raid in a specific sector, without identifying the target companies. In addition, although investigations are usually subject to judicial secrecy, in some situations the PCA will issue a press release to report on certain aspects of the investigation, e.g. when it adopts a statement of objections.
Also, notwithstanding judicial secrecy, the target company has the right to access the file once the statement of objections has been issued, in order to exercise its right of defence (Article 33(2) of the Competition Act).
Through the proceedings, the PCA will apply similar principles to those applied by the European Commission with regard to confidential issues. In this context, the PCA shall have due care for the legitimate interests of companies, associations or other entities relating to non-disclosure of their business secrets.
During the course of an investigation, target companies will have at least 10 days in which to classify information as confidential, which the PCA may choose to accept or reject. Access to this documentation is then granted solely to attorneys or external advisers for the purpose of preparing the defence.
All final decisions adopted by the PCA are published on its website. However, the publicly available versions of final decisions will be subject to a ‘confidentiality assessment’, whereby the PCA will safeguard business secrets and other information considered confidential to the parties.