The Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022, introduced in Parliament has brought in changes that will help early closure of investigations and help reduce litigation, Pritika Kumar, founder, Cornellia Chambers says.

“The bill introduces settlement and commitment mechanisms in cases of investigation in relation to anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominance,” she explains.

The bill that proposes a wide range of changes to the existing Competition Act 2002, has expanded the scope of the definition of “combination” to also include mergers and acquisitions where the deal value exceeds ₹2,000 crore.

“Deal value would include every valuable consideration whether direct or indirect. Also, the requirement to give notice of combination to the Competition Commission of India (CCI) within 30 days of the trigger event (i.e. within 30 days of the board resolution/execution of agreement) has been scrapped and the notice has to now be given before consummation of the combination,” Kumar says.

The Amendment Bill introduces a new Section 29A to allow CCI or the party to the combination to make suitable changes or modifications in case the CCI says the combination will cause appreciable adverse effect on competition. This will ensure no AAEC occurs within the timelines given under the section.

Kumar says the timelines around combination filing and approval have been tightened. “To instantiate, the CCI is required to pass an order w.r.t a combination within 150 days of receiving the notice instead of the earlier 210 days. This will allow for closing and effectuating transactions faster at the cost of CCI’s workload increasing. Similarly, a limitation period of 3 years has been prescribed under the bill for filing information on anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant position before the CCI, with the CCI allowing exceptional cases based on sufficient cause and after recording its reasons for condoning delays,” she says.

Kumar cautions that Section 26(2A), which allows the CCI to not investigate matters related to anti-competitive agreements or abuse of dominance if a matter with substantially the same facts has been decided by it before, needs to be used wisely. “The Act is an economic legislation and the market is dynamic, therefore, the Commission’s earlier findings may differ from present facts,” she observes.

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