COMPETITION • FRENCH LAW • PROCEDURE
The Paris Court of Appeal may overturn or annul the decisions of the Competition Authority. The review carried out by the court, when hearing an application for annulment, is similar to that carried out in the case of an appeal for excess of power by an administrative court. The Court of Appeal reviews the external and internal legality of the decision. In particular, it assesses whether the Authority has not exceeded its powers, whether it has complied with the rules of the ECHR (Art. 6), the rules of procedure and form defined by the Commercial Code, and ensures that the Authority has respected the rights of the defense. The Court also verifies that the Authority has not committed an error of law in the interpretation and application of Articles L. 420-1, L. 420-2 and L. 420-5 and Articles 101 and 102 TFEU, nor any manifest error of assessment, in particular when imposing fines.
The Court will annul the decision in its entirety and terminate the proceedings when the cause of annulment affects the proceedings as a whole, irremediably jeopardizes the rights of the defense, or involves the striking of all evidence from the record. If this is not the case, the Court issues a new ruling in fact and in law. It then has several options: either it refers the case back to the Authority to resume the proceedings and render a decision; or it rules again on the case as it stands and its decision replaces that of the Authority; or it rules again, but first requests an expert assessment. The annulment may be only partial.
The setting aside of the Authority’s decision is subject to full adversarial proceedings. The Court of Appeal conducts a new assessment of the elements of the case in fact and in law. Its decision substitutes itself totally or partially for that of the Authority. It then has all the powers set out in Article L. 464-2.