In wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”) has on April 13, 2020, announced further relaxations and clarifications concerning matters involving anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominance, combination filings and other compliances under the Competition Act. These are in furtherance of CCI’s public notices dated March 23 (https://www.cci.gov.in/sites/default/files/whats_newdocument/scan1.pdf) and 30 (https://www.cci.gov.in/sites/default/files/whats_newdocument/30thcircular.pdf), 2020, respectively. The recent notice dated April 13 can be accessed at: https://www.cci.gov.in/sites/default/files/whats_newdocument/COVID-19.pdf
Scope: The April 13 notice provides that new information/complaints concerning sections 3 (anti-competitive agreements) and 4 (abuse of dominance) violations can now be provided electronically, i.e. through an email to the CCI at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further, new notices concerning combinations can be filed through an email at email@example.com along with requisite fee to be remitted directly to CCI’s account mentioned in the public notice. The combination e-filings shall be accompanied with proof of payment of requisite fee. Dates for filing of the hard copies shall be notified by the CCI in due course. Previously, CCI had only permitted e-filing of combination notices under the Green Channel (Regulation 5A of Combination regulations). Another interesting development qua combination notices is the provision of pre-filing consultation with the CCI though video conferencing. A request in this respect shall be made to the CCI at firstname.lastname@example.org, pursuant to which CCI shall provide a weblink accessible to the concerned parties for remote consultation. Other measures include notifying new dates for matters listed for hearing upto April 20, 2020 and compliance in sections 3 and 4 matters, which is due upto April 20.
Impact: While the CCI endeavours to deal with pending and now, new matters subject to available information, e-filing of conduct related complaints and combination notices certainly goes a long way in easing the filing mechanism. Further, pre-filing consultation for combination filings through video-conferencing is a welcome step for organizations party to an amalgamation (or acquisition) requiring the anti-trust nod from the CCI. It would be interesting to see if the CCI uses these “measures” as an opportunity to improve interface with the interested parties by judiciously utilizing such e-facilities in future as well, i.e. once we have defeated Covid-19.