Relations with the Hearing officers

Relations with the Hearing officers

Relations with the Hearing officers. General Remarks

The Hearing Officers act independently from DG COMP and are therefore attached, for administrative purposes, to the Competition Commissioner. Their role and responsibilities are laid down in the Hearing Officer's Terms of Reference. 1

More about Relations with the Hearing officers

The Hearing Officers are assisted by several advisers and a secretariat. The services of DG Competition are to co-operate fully with them. The operational Directorates must keep the Hearing Officers informed about all important procedural steps. The Hearing Officers should receive copies of all documents relevant to the fulfilment of their functions. They also have access to any files relating to competition proceedings.

More about the Subject

The Hearing Officers are responsible for ensuring the respect for the effective exercise of procedural rights. They have various functions and powers. First, they have decision making powers as regards certain procedural issues. In the exercise of such powers, they act as a dispute resolution mechanism over DG Competition's decisions. This means that, unless provided otherwise in the Terms of Reference, parties involved in the proceedings must first raise these issues with DG Competition. In case of disagreement, the parties may then refer the issue to the Hearing Officers. Second, the Hearing Officers have the power to make recommendations in relation to certain procedural issues. Third the Hearing Officers can report on any procedural incidents in their interim and final reports. They may also submit observations on any matter arising out of any proceedings to the Competition Commissioner at any point in time. Finally, the Hearing Officer are responsible for the organisation and conduct of oral hearings.

Other Considerations

The Hearing Officers must be kept informed of developments in the procedure in antitrust, cartel and merger cases up to the stage of a final draft decision submitted to the College. This applies from the initiation of proceedings in antitrust and merger cases.


This includes the following: – All notes to Legal Service and the Competition Commissioner should be copied to the Hearing Officers – In commitment cases (Article 9 Reg 1/2003), copies of preliminary assessments should be forwarded and information provided on all major steps in the procedure leading to a draft Article 9 (commitment) decision – The Hearing Officers need to be fully informed of issues that might have an impact on the procedure and in particular on rights of defence. Letters of fact and/or supplementary statements of objections, for example, have a particular relevance for the Hearing Officers, as do any reorientations of a case. – Information on any material difference between the decision and the SO.


The Hearing Officers should be invited when panels are organized and should receive copy of the issue paper and the conclusions of the panel.


They should also be invited to all state of play and triangular meetings (as well as the Legal Service). The agenda of such meetings, when available, should be communicated to the Hearing Officers in advance of the meetings.


Of particular importance are the first state of play meetings in settlement and commitment (Article 9 Reg. 1/2003) cases. In settlement cases, the practice of Hearing Officers has been to always attend the first meeting to inform the parties of the possibility to contact the Hearing Officer in case there is disagreement with DG Competition over a procedural issue. In commitment cases, paragraph 119 of the Notice on Antitrust Best Practices 2 now foresees that a state of play meeting will be organized when the parties engage with DG Competition in discussions about possible commitments. The Hearing Officer and the Legal Service should be invited to such meetings (generally the Hearing Officer will not attend in person, but will be represented by one of the advisers).


See Also


  • Information about Relations with the Hearing officers in the Antitrust Manual of Procedures for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (Internal DG Competition)


[Note 1]
Decision 2011/695/EU of the President of the European Commission of 13 October 2011 on the function and terms of reference of the hearing officer in certain competition proceedings (OJ L 275, 20.10.2011, p. 29), which replaces Commission Decision of 23.5.2001 on the terms of reference of Hearing Officers in certain competition proceedings, OJ L 162, 19.6.2001, p. 21.
[Note 2]
Commission Notice on best practices for the conduct of proceedings concerning Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (OJ C 308, 20.10.2011, p. 6) (“Notice on Antitrust Best Practices”)

Further Reading

  • Information about Relations with the Hearing officers in “An Introduction to EU Competition Law”, Moritz Lorenz (Cambridge University Press)

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