The procedures listed below apply to a typical investigation by CCCS for a suspected infringement of the Act. There are usually four key phases:
- Informal checks and enquiries – When a matter is brought to CCCS’s attention, we may carry out informal checks and make informal enquiries with competitors, customers and other third parties to clarify the situation or get more information. Informal checks and enquiries may lead to a closure of the matter or an investigation depending on the information obtained.
- Investigation – When CCCS has reasonable grounds to suspect that the Competition Act has been infringed, we will proceed to launch a formal investigation. CCCS is empowered to issue notices to require businesses and their owners/managers/employees to provide information and documents. Where applicable, we also have the power to enter premises (with or without a warrant) to obtain the necessary evidence in the form of documents or information. In certain circumstances CCCS may seize equipment, including computers, from the premises for analysis. Third parties may also be served with a notice. Refer to “Notices for Information and Documents” and “Entry With or Without Warrant” for more information.
- Proposed Infringement Decision – Following the investigations, where CCCS proposes to make an infringement decision, we will issue a Proposed Infringement Decision (PID). The PID is a written notice setting out the basis for CCCS’s decision. It is issued to the parties concerned, to give them an opportunity to make representations to CCCS, and provide any other information for consideration, before CCCS finalises its decision on whether there has been an infringement. Parties will be given the opportunity to inspect the documents that CCCS has gathered and has relied on in making its assessment.
- Infringement Decision – Where representations are received, CCCS will study them and before finalising its Infringement Decision. The Infringement Decision sets out the basis for CCCS’s decision for finding the parties have infringed the Act, the penalties and other remedies to be imposed, if any. The document will be published on CCCS’s Public Register. Infringing parties may accept CCCS’s decision and comply with the instructions with regards to the penalty/remedy. They may also choose to appeal the decision to the Competition Appeal Board.