The Icelandic Competition Authority aims to conclude cases with carefully reasoned decisions within reasonable time limits. The following factors will often determine the duration of a case at the Authority:
- Scope: Cases before the Competition Authority vary in scope and complexity. Decisions posted on the website range from two pages to almost a thousand pages.
- Parties: The greater the number of parties to the case, the more data to be collected and viewpoints to be considered, the longer it takes to process a case. It is often forgotten that waiting for information and viewpoints accounts for a substantial proportion of the time that a case will take.
- Requirement for careful procedure: Administrative legislation imposes strict rules on the Competition Authority and other administrative agencies concerning investigation, the right of protest etc. Clearly, it would often be possible to speed up proceedings at the cost of due process.
- Prioritization: Urgent cases under process will often delay the progress of other cases. To give an example, a decision on intervention or an annulment of a merger must, by law, be taken within statutory time limits. Merger cases are therefore processed ahead of cases which are not subject to statutory time limits.
- Human resources and capacity: The specialists working for the Competition Authority are frequently under considerable pressure. This, and of course the funding allocated to the Authority, has an impact on the pace of procedures.
The strategy of the Competition Authority and its performance goals have the objective of speeding up procedures. For the above reasons, however, it is not possible to exclude the possibility of undesirable delays. However, there should be no delays without legitimate reasons.
Origin of cases
Cases are undertaken either on the initiative of the Competition Authority itself or on the basis of complaints received by the Authority. Decisions to take the initiative are made on the basis of the priorities and focus of the Authority. The Competition Authority employs various means to maintain an overview of the situation in markets and it prioritises its tasks on the basis of this overview.
Anyone can submit a notification or a tip to the Competition Authority, e.g. through the “Tip us about possible competition law violations” link on the website, either under their own names or anonymously. Formal complaints can also be submitted to the Competition Authority. See “Inquiries and complaints”.
The Competition Authority decides on investigations
The Competition Authority decides which cases to investigate. These decisions are, among other things, based on the priorities of the Authority. The Competition Authority has predetermined financial resources at its disposal in any given year. For obvious reasons, the Authority is unable to investigate all cases that may be important from the point of view of the party submitting a complaint or a tip.
Those who address the Authority with a tip or a complaint are therefore not automatically entitled to the acceptance of their cases for process, nor are they automatically parties to such cases. There are both requirements relating to submitted complaints and in addition the Competition Authority will assess whether a complaint gives sufficient causes for investigation. If a complaint does not meet the above conditions regarding form and content, it is nevertheless filed as a notification/tip and may later on lead to an investigation.
Rules of procedure of the Competition Authority
Further provisions on the rules of procedure of the Competition Authority are laid down in Rules No. 880/2005, and in addition further information on Inquiries and complaints is available on the Authority's website.