Answer ... On 31 May 2019 Act XVI of 2019 was adopted amending the Competition Act (Chapter 379 of the Laws of Malta) and various other laws.
The amendments have introduced the following changes to the investigation carried out by the Office for Competition:
- It is expressly recognised that any person can rely on the right against self-incrimination during an investigation before the office.
- The office may wait a “reasonable time” for the undertaking’s legal counsel to arrive before initiating a dawn raid; however, this will not suspend the dawn raid, although it may delay it.
- The office must seek the assistance of the Civil Court (Commercial Section) to fine undertakings for offences relating to requests for information and production of documents or conduct during dawn raids.
- Settlements with the office, whereby the parties acknowledge their participation in an infringement of competition law and make settlement submissions during an investigation, must now be approved by the Civil Court (Commercial Section), upon a joint application by the office and the undertaking/s concerned. The settlement procedure may now be resorted to not only pending an investigation before the office, but also when proceedings before the Civil Court (Commercial Section) are underway.
- The investigation can no longer be closed on the basis of commitments offered by the undertaking/s under investigation to the office. Commitments can now be offered only where proceedings have been filed before the Civil Court (Commercial Section) against the undertaking/s under investigation. In its judgment, the court will then make these commitments binding upon the undertaking/s.