On 25 November 2014, the General Court ("GC") confirmed the Commission's unannounced inspection on Orange's premises (Case T-402/13) in relation to an alleged infringement of Article 102 TFEU in the market for internet connectivity services. Noteworthy is that the GC confirmed and further clarified the powers of the Commission to investigate practices that had been investigated earlier by a national competition authority.
At an inspection nine months prior to the Commission's raid, the French Competition Authority did not find an infringement of competition law. However, to address certain concerns, it placed binding commitments on Orange. Orange alleged that the Commission's inspections related to identical practices as those investigated by the French Competition Authority, and that it was therefore in violation of the ne bis in idem principle. The GC held, however, that no national competition authority is empowered to find that Articles 101 or 102 TFEU were not infringed. The GC confirmed that the Commission is competent to adopt decisions on Articles 101 and 102 TFEU even if these contradict findings by national competition authorities. Therefore, the principle of ne bis in idem does not apply in this context.
Furthermore, that the Commission did not intervene during the French Competition Authority's inspection under Article 11(6) Regulation 1/2003, did not mean that the Commission had accepted the findings of the French Competition Authority. Therefore, the GC dismissed Orange's appeal entirely.