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10 September 2009
In August 2009 the Norwegian Competition Authority published best practice guidelines on the conduct of merger control proceedings. The purpose of the guidelines is to improve the predictability of proceedings and establish an efficient review process. The guidelines discuss both pre-notification contacts and case handling after receipt of a formal notification.
As Norway has low turnover thresholds for the notification of concentrations compared to most other jurisdictions, a considerable number of notifications are submitted to the Competition Authority every year. The guidelines state that pre-notification contact is not necessary in the majority of cases where concentrations raise no competition concerns.
Pre-notification contact is appropriate in cases where:
The purpose of pre-notification contact is to clarify the procedural and material issues that the concentration may raise in order to focus the case handling and to clarify whether additional information beyond the notification requirements is necessary. Possible exemptions to the notification requirements may also be dealt with under pre-notification contacts.
Any pre-notification contact should be initiated no less than 10 working days before the expected notification date and be followed by a written submission regarding the concentration and the competition issues arising from it - for example, in the form of a draft notification. Where the concentration is not public, information given during pre-notification contact will be handled as confidential to the extent permitted by law.
The guidelines further describe how the Competition Authority will handle a case following receipt of a formal notification. Receipt of notification is confirmed by publication on the authority's website. The notifying party's proposal for a public version of the notification shall be submitted along with the notification. If it is not, the notification is considered incomplete.
The guidelines describe the authority's current practice of not issuing a formal clearance letter in respect of concentrations which have been subject to simplified ordinary notifications. These are automatically cleared if the authority has not issued a request for a complete notification within 15 working days of receipt of the notification.
In cases where complete notifications are submitted, the guidelines set out a timeframe for meetings with the authority, as well as other aspects of such meetings, such as setting the agenda, the participants and the minutes. The notifying party can request access to the case log on a weekly basis and thereafter request access to the documents. The guidelines also clarify the procedures for public access.
The notifying party is encouraged to discuss any relevant remedies with the authority as early in the case handling as possible. With respect to the types of remedy proposal, the guidelines also refer to the Commission Notice on Remedies and Model Texts.
For further information on this topic please contact Monica Syrdal or Heddy Ludvigsen at Advokatfirmaet Hjort DA by telephone (+47 2247 1800), fax (+47 2247 1818) or email (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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