In light of the ongoing discussion on the potential need for reform of the enforcement system of EU competition law to make it compliant with Article 6(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), the aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate in a threefold manner by: i) sketching the peculiarities of the enforcement of competition law (in general, but with a focus on EU competition law), which basically derive from the complex and data intensive economic assessments required in most cases; ii) critically appraising the requirements of Article 6(1) ECHR in the field of EU competition law in view of those peculiarities; and, finally, iii) assessing the impact of those requirements in terms of the potentially necessary amendments to the EU competition law enforcement system upon the EU’s accession to the ECHR.
The basic contention of the paper is that, given the specific architecture of the EU competition law enforcement system under Regulation 1/2003 (and the domestic competition laws of Member States) — which have crystallized in a network of highly specialised and independent administrative agencies that, generally, offer procedural guarantees equivalent (or superior) to those of most tribunals in other areas of the law — and as long as an effective (soft or marginal) judicial review mechanism is available to the undertakings affected by sanctions due to EU competition law infringements, no significant changes are required in order to make the system comply with Articles 6(1) ECHR and 47 EUCFR. This position is further supported by the express normative assumption that undertakings (or companies) deserve a relatively more limited protection than individuals under the ECHR and, more specifically, under Article 6(1) ECHR — at least as regards non-core due process guarantees, such as the standard of review applicable (and as opposed to ‘core’ due process guarantees such as the presumption of innocence, the principle of equality of arms, the right to have full access to the evidence, or the right not to suffer undue delays).
Tobias Lock of the University of Surrey School of Law, has published 'End of an Epic? The Draft Agreement on the EU's Accession to the ECHR' in this year's Yearbook of European Law, also on SSRN. This is the abstract:
This contribution aims to analyze and assess the draft agreement on the European Union’s (EU) accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The paper first discuss the effects which accession will have on the system of human rights protection under the ECHR focusing on the most relevant features of the accession agreement, such as the co-respondent mechanism and the prior involvement of the ECJ. The second part of this contribution explores the future status of the ECHR in the EU’s legal order. It is argued that accession will not affect the status quo of fundamental rights protection before the EU's courts or domestic courts in any material way. Nonetheless, accession is to be welcomed as it will allow for full external scrutiny by the European Court of Human Rights.
Finally, Lina Urbaitė has written 'Judicial Activism in the Approach of the European Court of Human Rights to Positive Obligations of the State', published in the Baltic Yearbook of International Law (vol. 11, 2011).