WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today released survey results examining the use of confidential information in antitrust proceedings. The Chamber surveyed more than 90 antitrust practitioners covering more than 30 jurisdictions, and found that 75% of respondents felt that antitrust agencies needed to better adhere to internal policies around confidentiality, or felt those practices were in need of reform.
“It is critical that antitrust agencies not make overly broad determinations of confidentiality,” said Sean Heather, executive director for Antitrust Policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “When they do, it becomes difficult for the target of an investigation to understand the theory of harm and supporting evidence against them. Such practices can be a real challenge to procedural fairness.”
Only 14% of respondents indicated that agencies rarely rely on confidential information and when they do there are adequate means for sharing such information with the target of an investigation in order to mount a defense.
The International Competition Network (ICN), the global body of the world’s antitrust regulators will meet next week in Morocco. As part of a three-year project on the investigative process, the ICN conducted a survey of its members with respect to how confidential information is handled and how it is used in antitrust proceedings. The practitioner survey is intended to be a complement to the agency survey. The survey was conducted by Heather, James Rill, and Charles Webb who serve as non-government advisors to the ICN.
This survey follows up on a previous practitioners survey, also spearheaded by the Chamber, which examined transparency and due process in antitrust proceedings.