In recognition of the increasingly important role that third parties play in providing information to the OFT, the regulator has issued guidance outlining its formal processes for ensuring third parties' views are heard during Competition Act investigations.
The guidance outlines that 'Formal Complainant' status will be granted when complainers submit written, reasoned complaints. The OFT may also grant Formal Complainant status to parties who have not submitted formal complaints, but whose interests are materially affected by the conduct which is being investigated (for example customers or competitors of the undertaking in respect of whom the complaint is being made) or, in exceptional circumstances, to parties who do not have enough information to submit a written, reasoned complaint, but who may still be able to assist the OFT by providing useful information.
Formal Complainants will be consulted by the OFT before it reaches any final decision. This consultation will involve being specifically invited to comment on the statement of objections, proposal not to investigate or a decision to adopt or reject interim measures. Additionally, Formal Complainants may receive more information about the OFT's investigation than would be publicly available.
The OFT's guidance outlines the information that must be included in a written, reasoned complaint. The complainer must identify itself and the undertaking in respect of who the complaint is being made ( the "complainee"). The complaint must describe the behaviour considered to be anti competitive and identify the markets that have been, or are likely to be, effected.
The complaint must also explain how it has been materially affected by the behaviour and outline the action that it would like the OFT to take. The complainant must submit all the evidence it has available and, in return, the OFT will ensure that Formal Complainants are given structured opportunities to comment on the case before the OFT makes a final decision.
The complainant's submission will usually be shown to the complainee. Therefore, if you are considering making a complaint you should provide an additional, non-confidential, version of your complaint to the OFT.