Leniency regulations amended by CCI- made more attractive
The CCI has amended the provisions related to CCI (Lesser Penalty) Regulations, 20091 on August 22, 2017. The Leniency Regulations supplement Section 46 of the Competition Act, 2002, which sets out the statutory provision for grant of leniency in matters involving cartels and agreements. The provision enables parties to ‘blow the whistle’ on cartel arrangements and avail up to 100% reduction in penalties.
CCI has now made leniency more attractive, by making individuals also eligible to get benefit from the leniency provisions. This will encourage employees in enterprises also to come forward to blow the whistle and benefit from leniency provisions, for their potential personal liabilities.
Briefly, these amendments include –
- Individuals to benefit from leniency: Prior to the Notification, the Leniency Regulations were restricted to enterprises alone. The Leniency Regulations now stand amended to allow individuals involved in the alleged cartel to seek a reduction in the penalty as well. To this end, the leniency application is required to specify the names of such individuals at the time of submission to the CCI.
- No limitation on the number of markers: Prior to the Notification, the Leniency Regulations allowed the reduction in the penalty to a maximum of three leniency applicants on a first-come-first-served basis, coupled with the quality of information/evidence submitted and other factors. The new Notification has done away with this limitation by allowing additional applicants to avail of the benefits of the leniency programme. Presently, while the first applicant may still be granted up to 100% reduction in penalty and the second applicant up to 50%, the third applicant or any subsequent applicants may be granted up to 30% reduction in penalty.
- Confidentiality provisions further clarified: Prior to the Notification, the Leniency Regulations were silent on disclosure of confidential information submitted as part of the leniency application by the Director General (DG) during the investigation process. The amendments clarify that certain confidential information/evidence may be disclosed by the DG to any party (without the applicant’s prior approval) for the purposes of the investigation, should the DG deem such disclosure necessary, subject to recording reasons in writing and receiving prior approval of the CCI. Further, the amendments also specify that inspection (of non-confidential information/evidence) in leniency matters will be allowed only after the CCI has forwarded a copy of the report of the DG to the parties concerned.
- Clarification on the contents of the application: The Notification has clarified that the information in the leniency application in relation to the volume/size of business affected as a result of the cartel should be limited/restricted to only India.
Please refer to- http://www.cci.gov.in/sites/default/files/whats_newdocument/Draft%20for%20Public%20Comments_0.pdf