Following EU law, a hearing officer oversees the objective conduct of the proceedings before the Competition Authority. As soon as the Statement of Objections is notified, the hearing officer, appointed by ministerial decree from the Minister of the Economy’s department and who is either a judge or of a status of equivalent expertise and of guaranteed independence, receives, if applicable, the observations of the parties involved in the case on the progress of the procedures concerning them. The hearing officer may intervene either at the request of one of the parties, or may call the attention of the rapporteur général to a question relative to the respect of the rights of the parties. The hearing officer drafts a report at least ten working days before the hearing assessing the observations and may propose any action to improve the exercise of the defense rights of the parties (Art. L. 461-4 of the Commercial Code). A copy of the report is sent to the rapporteur général and the parties concerned. The hearing officer may, by invitation of the President of the Competition Authority, attend the hearing and present his report.

The hearing officer is assisted in his functions by the Authority’s investigation department. He may have access to the file and cannot be challenged under the rules relating to confidentiality of documents or business secrets (Art. R. 461-9 of the Commercial Code).