On 17 July 2014, the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 was passed by the Irish Parliament. The legislation was first published by the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation ("DJEI") on 31 March 2014 (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2014, No. 4, available at www.vbb.com).
The main innovation introduced under the Act is the merger of the National Consumer Agency ("NCA") and the Competition Authority ("CA") to form the new Competition and Consumer Protection Commission ("CCPC"), although this new authority will only come into existence at a future date to be determined by the DJEI. This new body will be responsible for both the promotion of competition and the protection of consumers and follows a similar development in the UK (See VBB on Competition Law, Volume 2014, No. 3, available at www.vbb.com).
Another reform introduced by the legislation is the amendment of the merger control section of the Competition Act 2002, including the introduction of new merger notification thresholds and procedures.
Under the new Act, a merger will be notifiable to the CCPC if, in the most recent financial year, the aggregate turnover in the State of the relevant undertakings is not less than 50,000,000, and the turnover in the State of each of two or more of the undertakings involved is not less than 3,000,000.
The 2014 Act further brings Irish law into line with the European Merger Regulation, through the introduction of the possibility of filing merger notifications, where it can be demonstrated to the CCPC that a good-faith intention to conclude a merger exists.
Regarding the changes to the review periods, the new legislation extends the time periods granted to the CCPC to consider a notified transaction and grants new powers to 'stop the clock' during a Phase 2 investigation.
Under the new regime, the CCPC will have an initial Phase 1 period of 30 working days (up from the previous allowance of one month), taking into account suspensions for formal information requests, in which to decide whether to open a Phase 2 investigation.
After the initiation of a Phase 2 process, the CCPC will have 120 working days from the date of receipt of the notification to complete the investigation (the old regime allowed for a four-month investigation period). Should the CCPC issue a formal request for information within 30 working days of the receipt of notification, it will have 120 working days from the date on which the information...