Saturday, November 27, 2010
Posted by D. Daniel Sokol
Antonio Caruso (DG Comp) describes Leniency Programmes and Protection of Confidentiality: The Experience of the European Commission.
ABSTRACT: The principle of confidentiality of leniency submissions is a key point of the EU Leniency Programme. Largely drawn from the functioning of the US programme, the EU Leniency Programme gradually strengthened the protection of the confidentiality of leniency submissions, in order not to put at a disadvantage leniency applicants compared to non-applicants. Protection is nevertheless not absolute and varies depending on the entities that interact with the Commission, such as parties to the proceedings, third parties, foreign, EU Member States' judges or other authorities. The legal framework is complex: leniency submissions are covered by the notion of ‘professional secrecy’ (Art. 339 of TFEU) and considered in principle confidential, for the purposes of Regulation 1049/2001 and the publication of decisions. Their disclosure is subject to very specific conditions before judges/national authorities. Whereas EU Courts will be prompted in forthcoming key cases to scrutinize the status of confidentiality of leniency submissions under Regulation 1049/2001 and other regimes, Commission policy remains aimed at protecting the confidential status of corporate statements in all circumstances, whereas enabling disclosure of pre-existing documents only subject to certain conditions.