(C) FAST-TRACK PROCEDURE
33. In 2001, an "expedited procedure"
was created enabling the Community Courts to give priority to
specific cases with the aim of deciding cases, especially but
not exclusively merger cases, within one year of the application
for review being made.
Either the applicant or defendant may apply for expedition. The
Court will decide whether to grant such request having regard
to "the particular urgency and the circumstances of the case".
If granted the case has priority and there will usually be only
one round of written pleadings. The oral hearing may be longer
on account of the abbreviated written proceedings. The judge-rapporteur
may hold case conferences with the parties and notes of argument
may be exchanged prior to the oral hearing.
34. Judge Forwood, for the CFI, described the
process: "by and large the timeframes have been in general
agreed with the parties at the outset
the application for
an accelerated procedure is made at the same time as the lodging
of the substantive application itself. There is in practice, almost
immediately, direct contact between the Commission lawyers and
the applicant's lawyers before the Commission puts in its response
to that application. So, by the time the first
meeting takes place with the parties, firstly the parties have
already been able to identify the sort of timeframe within which
they would want a judgment for it to be useful for their purposes;
secondly, to a certain extent they may have already started to
identify the issues that would be dealt with if the case is accepted
on an accelerated procedure basis" (Q 381). It appears
that the fast-track works best with the cooperation of all the
parties (Q 404).
35. Judge Forwood reported that since February
2001 there have been 84 applications for the fast-track of which
28 have been accepted. Of those 84 cases, 21 have been merger
cases and of those 21 requests, 17 have been accepted (Q 383).
From these figures it can be seen that approximately two-thirds
of the cases dealt with by way of the expedited procedure have
been merger cases.
Current performance under fast-track