Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions

Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions

Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions. General rules and citation of evidence

Article 27(1) of Regulation 1/2003 provides that the Commission must base its decisions only on objections on which the parties concerned have been able to comment. 1 Hence, the objections must be exhaustive and couched in terms that, albeit succinct, are sufficiently clear to enable the parties concerned properly to take cognizance of the conduct complained of by the Commission. 2 The undertakings concerned must be informed of all the facts and documents on which the Commission intends to rely in its final decision, even if they are known to the undertaking. 3

More about Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions

The SO must also clearly set out the legal assessment of the facts raised against each undertaking so that the undertaking concerned has an opportunity to contest the legal conclusions concerning the alleged infringements. 4 In practice, the linkage between the factual part and the legal assessment can be done by cross-references from the legal analysis to the relevant recitals in the description of the facts; it is not necessary to repeat the facts in the legal part. In this context, it is also important to keep in mind that if a document is mentioned in the factual part of the SO but no conclusion is drawn from it in the legal assessment, it may be more difficult to rely on it as evidence of the conduct with which an undertaking is charged. 5

More about the Subject

Personal data, that is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (such as names of representatives of the undertaking referred to in minutes of meetings, letters etc) should for reasons of personal data protection only be mentioned in the SO if this is necessary to support the objections against the undertaking concerned 6 or to allow parties to properly exercise their rights of defence. Where possible the natural person should not be identified in the SO by name but rather a description of the person's function should be given in general terms (example: marketing manager of undertaking A, employee of undertaking B).

Other Considerations

SOs (and prohibition decisions) should identify the documents used as evidence in support of the objections. This should be done by way of reference to documents in the file. Any precise quotations of passages of the document in the file should be accompanied by a translation done in the language of the procedure of the undertaking, indicating that it is an unofficial translation of the original document. In general, each time an objection is based on a document, the document should be clearly cited so that the undertaking in question will be able to identify and find it easily when access is given to the file, as well as to give its view on the evidential value of the document.


Only documents cited or mentioned in the SO (or in a supplementary SO or letter of facts) constitute valid evidence. The important point is not the documents as such but the conclusions that the Commission draws from them. If certain documents, even where they are known to an undertaking (e.g. when they came from its offices), are not mentioned in the SO, this undertaking may consider that these documents are of no importance for the purposes of the case and the Commission may have to indicate them to the parties (for instance, in a letter of facts) before relying on them in the final decision. 7 However, documents appended to the SO, but not mentioned therein, may be used in the decision against a party, if the addressee of the decision could reasonably deduce from the SO the conclusions which the Commission intended to draw from them 8 , but it is always preferable to make express reference to any document that may be used.


See Also


  • Information about Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions in the Antitrust Manual of Procedures for the application of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU (Internal DG Competition)


[Note 1]
See also case C-62/86, AKZO, paragraphs 15 to 24, Rec. I-3444-3445 ; and joint cases T-10, 11, 12 et 15/92, CBR ea, (Ciments), paragraph 33, Rec. 1992 II-1571.
[Note 2]
Joined Cases T-5/00 and T-6/00, Nederlandse Federatieve Vereniging voor de Groothandel op Elektrotecknish Gebied and Technische Unie BV v Commission, [2003] ECR II-5761 paragraph 33; Joined Cases C-89/85, C-104/85, C- 114/85, C-116/85, C-117/85 and C-125/85 to C-129/85 Ahlström Osakeyhtiö and Others v Commission [1993] ECR I- 1307, paragraph 42.
[Note 3]
Case 85/76 Hoffmann-La Roche v Commission, [1979] ECR 461, paragraphs 9 and 11; Case T-7/89 Hercules v Commission,[1991] ECR II-1711, paragraph 53.
[Note 4]
Case C-62/86 Akzo v Commission [1991] ECR 1-3359, paragraph 29; see also joint cases T-10, 11, 12 et 15/92, CBR ea, (Ciments), paragraph 33, Rec. 1992 II-1571.
[Note 5]
Joined cases C-89/85, C-104/85, C-114/85, C-116/85, C-117/85 and C-125/85 to C-129/85, Ahlström Osakeyhtiö and others v Commission (“Woodpulp”), [1993] ECR I-1307, paragraph 153.
[Note 6]
Regulation (EC) No 45/2001 (OJ L 8, 12.1.2001, page 1) protects individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by EU institutions..
[Note 7]
Case 107/82,AEG [1983] ECR 3193, paragraphs 26 and 27. By not informing the applicant that the documents in question would be used in the decision, the Commission prevented AEG from putting forward its view of the probative value of such documents.
[Note 8]
Joined Cases T-5/00 and T-6/00 Nederlandse Federatieve Vereniging voor de Groothandel op Elektrotechnisch Gebied and Technische Unie BV v Commission [2003] ECR II-5761 paragraph 34

Further Reading

  • Information about Statement of Objections Substantive Conditions in “An Introduction to EU Competition Law”, Moritz Lorenz (Cambridge University Press)

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