New Romanian completion law amendments became effective on 1 January 2016 as a result of Law no. 347/2015 (the “Competition Law”). The Completion Law contains substantive and procedural amendments, intended to aid the RCC in its enforcement actions against potential infringement of competition law.
The most significant changes include:
- Open access for Romanian Competition Council ( “RCC”) inspectors to internal documents drafted by companies under investigation. This includes documents prepared for the exclusive purpose of preparing their defence, including documents drafted by internal legal counsel. Attorney-client privilege continues to apply to documents prepared by external lawyers for the exclusive purpose of legal defence.
- Increased legal powers for RCC inspectors, including the right to conduct interviews from relevant individuals who consent. Providing inaccurate or misleading information within interviews is sanctioned as an administrative offence.
- Introduction of the concept of “competition whistle blowers” to Romanian competition law. A “competition whistle blower” is any individual who voluntarily submits information to the RCC regarding possible breaches of competition law. The RCC is obliged to keep the whistle-blower’s identity confidential and whistle blowers who are employees of the companies allegedly in breach benefit from additional protection against retaliation.
- New settlement rules that permit settlements with the RCC only up to the stage of the hearings. If the parties admit to the breach before communication of the investigation report, a simplified procedure will apply. The party admitting the breach will benefit from a 10 to 30% fine, applied to the base level, but in any event not less than 0.2% of the total turnover obtained in the preceding year. If a settlement is not reached between the RCC and the companies, the RCC cannot use any admission within the settlement procedure as evidence of the breach.
- Automatic qualification of RCC decisions on fines or which establish taxes for authorization of economic concentrations as enforceable/executory titles after 30 days from the date of communication, without any other formalities required for their enforceability.
- Increased taxes of between EUR 25,000 and EUR 50,000 for economic concentrations authorised within phase II investigation procedures.
- Suspension of the legal deadlines applicable to the RCC for merger clearance procedures when the Supreme Council of State Defence (“CSAT”) notifies the RCC that an economic concentration is likely to pose a threat for national security. If CSAT issues a decision prohibiting the economic concentration based on national security considerations, the RCC procedure will be terminated.