Rights of defence


Institution Definition

"Observance of the right to be heard is in all proceedings in which sanctions, in particular fines or penalty payments, may be imposed a fundamental principle of Community law which must be respected even if the proceedings in question are administrative proceedings. Judgement of 13. 2. 1979 - Case 85/76 Hoffmann-La Roche & Co. AG

To ensure an objective outcome, the parties are given certain rights of defence. They are entitled to have access to the file – this means they can see all non-confidential documents from the Commission’s investigation. The parties may then reply to the SO in writing within a certain delay. They may also request an oral hearing, which is conducted by an independent Hearing Officer. After examining the parties’ arguments, the Commission reviews and sometimes abandons (part of) its initial objections and may decide to close the case. © European Commission

See Procedural autonomy

See also the e-Competitions special issue "Rights of Defence and Competition Law: An overview of EU and national case law"

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