Setting Up Confidentiality Rings: CCI Notifies Timeline for Filing Requests

To expedite proceedings, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has notified amendments to the CCI (General) Regulations, 2009, concerning requests for setting up confidentiality rings.

The provisions regarding confidentiality rings were introduced two years back, vide the CCI (General) Amendment Regulations, 2022. The creation of such confidentiality rings enables authorised representatives of parties, who form part of such ring, to access confidential information of other parties during proceedings before the Commission.

Prior to notification of the 2024 Amendment Regulations, there was no provision with respect to parties filing applications for setting up a confidentiality ring; it could be set up if the Commission considered it necessary or expedient. Now, the parties seeking access to confidential information are required to make an application requesting to set up a confidentiality ring, at the earliest. If such a request is made after receipt of the non-confidential version of the investigation report, it has to be made within 10 days of such receipt; the period has been increased from 7 to 10 days after considering stakeholder comments on the draft regulations released earlier this year.

It is also envisaged that the undertakings submitted by parties for providing self-certification of confidentiality claims, under Regulation 35(2), and for safeguarding confidential information accessed, under Regulation 35(7), be provided in the form of affidavits. Dispelling concerns that this would make the process time-consuming, the Commission highlighted the benefits of the requirement to furnish an affidavit such as increased accountability.[1] Further, the amendments extend the liability concerning breach of undertakings to parties and their members forming part of the confidentiality ring.

Other notable amendments include the revision of fees for inspection of records from Rs.1,000 to Rs.2,500 per day per case, extension of timelines in exceptional circumstances, etc.