Competition Bill [H.L.] - continued        House of Commons

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Confidentiality and immunity from defamation
General restrictions on disclosure of information.     55. - (1) No information which-
    (a) has been obtained under or as a result of any provision of this Part, and
    (b) relates to the affairs of any individual or to any particular business of an undertaking,
  is to be disclosed during the lifetime of that individual or while that business continues to be carried on, unless the condition mentioned in subsection (2) is satisfied.
      (2) The condition is that consent to the disclosure has been obtained from-
    (a) the person from whom the information was initially obtained under or as a result of any provision of this Part (if the identity of that person is known); and
    (b) if different-
      (i) the individual to whose affairs the information relates, or
      (ii) the person for the time being carrying on the business to which the information relates.
      (3) Subsection (1) does not apply to a disclosure of information-
    (a) made for the purpose of-
      (i) facilitating the performance of any relevant functions of a designated person;
      (ii) facilitating the performance of any functions of the Commission in respect of Community law about competition;
      (iii) facilitating the performance by the Comptroller and Auditor General of any of his functions;
      (iv) criminal proceedings in any part of the United Kingdom;
    (b) made with a view to the institution of, or otherwise for the purposes of, civil proceedings brought under or in connection with this Part;
    (c) made in connection with the investigation of any criminal offence triable in the United Kingdom or in any part of the United Kingdom; or
    (d) which is required to meet a Community obligation.
      (4) In subsection (3) "relevant functions" and "designated person" have the meaning given in Schedule 11.
      (5) Subsection (1) also does not apply to a disclosure of information made for the purpose of facilitating the performance of specified functions of any specified person.
      (6) In subsection (5) "specified" means specified in an order made by the Secretary of State.
      (7) If information is disclosed to the public in circumstances in which the disclosure does not contravene subsection (1), that subsection does not prevent its further disclosure by any person.
      (8) A person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and liable-
    (a) on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum; or
    (b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to a fine or to both.
Director and Secretary of State to have regard to certain matters in relation to the disclosure of information.     56. - (1) This section applies if the Secretary of State or the Director is considering whether to disclose any information acquired by him under, or as a result of, any provision of this Part.
      (2) He must have regard to the need for excluding, so far as is practicable, information the disclosure of which would in his opinion be contrary to the public interest.
      (3) He must also have regard to-
    (a) the need for excluding, so far as is practicable-
      (i) commercial information the disclosure of which would, or might, in his opinion, significantly harm the legitimate business interests of the undertaking to which it relates, or
      (ii) information relating to the private affairs of an individual the disclosure of which would, or might, in his opinion, significantly harm his interests; and
    (b) the extent to which the disclosure is necessary for the purposes for which the Secretary of State or the Director is proposing to make the disclosure.
Defamation.     57. For the purposes of the law relating to defamation, absolute privilege attaches to any advice, guidance, notice or direction given, or decision made, by the Director in the exercise of any of his functions under this Part.
Findings of fact by Director
Findings of fact by Director.     58. - (1) Unless the court directs otherwise or the Director has decided to take further action in accordance with section 16(2) or 25(2), a Director's finding which is relevant to an issue arising in Part I proceedings is binding on the parties if-
    (a) the time for bringing an appeal in respect of the finding has expired and the relevant party has not brought such an appeal; or
    (b) the decision of an appeal tribunal on such an appeal has confirmed the finding.
      (2) In this section-
    "a Director's finding" means a finding of fact made by the Director in the course of-
      (a) determining an application for a decision under section 14 or 23, or
      (b) conducting an investigation under section 26;
    "Part I proceedings" means proceedings-
      (a) in respect of an alleged infringement of the Chapter I prohibition or of the Chapter II prohibition; but
      (b) which are brought otherwise than by the Director;
    "relevant party" means-
      (a) in relation to the Chapter I prohibition, a party to the agreement which is alleged to have infringed the prohibition; and
      (b) in relation to the Chapter II prohibition, the undertaking whose conduct is alleged to have infringed the prohibition.
      (3) Rules of court may make provision in respect of assistance to be given by the Director to the court in Part I proceedings.
Interpretation and governing principles
Interpretation.     59. - (1) In this Part-
    "appeal tribunal" means an appeal tribunal established in accordance with the provisions of Part III of Schedule 7 for the purpose of hearing an appeal under section 47 or 48;
    "Article 85" means Article 85 of the Treaty;
    "Article 86" means Article 86 of the Treaty;
    "block exemption" has the meaning given in section 6(4);
    "block exemption order" has the meaning given in section 6(2);
    "the Chapter I prohibition" has the meaning given in section 2(8);
    "the Chapter II prohibition" has the meaning given in section 18(4);
    "the Commission" (except in relation to the Competition Commission) means the European Commission;
    "the Council" means the Council of the European Union;
    "the court", except in sections 58 and 60 and the expression "European Court", means-
      (a) in England and Wales, the High Court;
      (b) in Scotland, the Court of Session; and
      (c) in Northern Ireland, the High Court;
    "the Director" means the Director General of Fair Trading;
    "document" includes information recorded in any form;
    "the EEA Agreement" means the Agreement on the European Economic Area signed at Oporto on 2nd May 1992 as it has effect for the time being;
    "the European Court" means the Court of Justice of the European Communities and includes the Court of First Instance;
    "individual exemption" has the meaning given in section 4(2);
    "information" includes estimates and forecasts;
    "investigating officer" has the meaning given in section 28(1);
    "Minister of the Crown" has the same meaning as in the Ministers of the Crown Act 1975;
    "officer", in relation to a body corporate, includes a director, manager or secretary and, in relation to a partnership in Scotland, includes a partner;
    "parallel exemption" has the meaning given in section 10(3);
    "person", in addition to the meaning given by the Interpretation Act 1978, includes any undertaking;
    "premises" does not include domestic premises unless-
      (a) they are also used in connection with the affairs of an undertaking, or
      (b) documents relating to the affairs of an undertaking are kept there,
    but does include any vehicle;
    "prescribed" means prescribed by regulations made by the Secretary of State;
    "regulator" has the meaning given by section 54;
    "section 11 exemption" has the meaning given in section 11(3); and
    "the Treaty" means the treaty establishing the European Community.
      (2) For the purposes of this Part, the power to require information, in relation to information recorded otherwise than in a legible form, includes power to require a copy of it in a legible form.
      (3) Any power conferred on the Director by this Part to require information includes power to require any document which he believes may contain that information.
Principles to be applied in determining questions.     60. - (1) The purpose of this section is to ensure that so far as is possible (having regard to any relevant differences between the provisions concerned), questions arising under this Part in relation to competition within the United Kingdom are dealt with in a manner which is consistent with the treatment of corresponding questions arising in Community law in relation to competition within the Community.
      (2) At any time when the court determines a question arising under this Part, it must act (so far as is compatible with the provisions of this Part and whether or not it would otherwise be required to do so) with a view to securing that there is no inconsistency between-
    (a) the principles applied, and decision reached, by the court in determining that question; and
    (b) the principles laid down by the Treaty and the European Court, and any relevant decision of that Court, as applicable at that time in determining any corresponding question arising in Community law.
      (3) The court must, in addition, have regard to any relevant decision or statement of the Commission.
      (4) Subsections (2) and (3) also apply to-
    (a) the Director; and
    (b) any person acting on behalf of the Director, in connection with any matter arising under this Part.
      (5) In subsections (2) and (3), "court" means any court or tribunal.
      (6) In subsections (2)(b) and (3), "decision" includes a decision as to the interpretation of any provision of Community law.
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