EU & Antitrust Update: A New Era for Irish Competition Law

21 November 2014

The Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 (the "Act") entered into force on 31 October 2014. As a consequence, the Competition Authority and the National Consumer Agency have merged, creating a unified competition and consumer protection regulator, called the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the “Commission”).

Whilst primary functions have not changed, the Act overhauls the prevailing merger control regime and strengthens the Commission’s powers to investigate and enforce competition law breaches.

New Thresholds for Merger Notifications

Under the new regime, undertakings must notify a proposed transaction where, in the most recent financial year: 

  • the aggregate turnover in the Republic of Ireland of all undertakings involved is not less than €50 million; and
  • the turnover in the Republic of Ireland of each of two or more of the undertakings involved is not less than €3 million.

Extended Timelines for Merger Notifications

The Act has significantly extended the length of time the Commission has to consider notified mergers.

The Phase I review period has been extended from one month to 30 working days.  If the Commission decides to open a Phase II investigation, the Commission has a period of 120 working days to conduct its review, extended from 4 months.  Both periods are extendable where information requests are issued by the Commission or where remedies are proposed.  Notably, the Commission can now also ‘stop the clock’ in Phase II by issuing a formal information request within 30 working days from the date of the decision to open a Phase II investigation.

New Media Merger Regime

Media mergers continue to be subject to mandatory notification irrespective of turnover of the undertakings.

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