The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has started the new year on a strong note, introducing the norm to levy a “filing fees” on the miscellaneous applications filed by parties at any time during an anti-trust proceeding. 

This latest CCI move is expected to discourage frivolous or unnecessary interlocutory applications (IA), thereby facilitating a more efficient handling of cases.

Earlier, there were no fees payable for filing such IAs and the CCI has now introduced this for the first time.

Currently, CCI receives numerous applications in its ongoing antitrust cases where parties file multiple IA on various grounds - adjournment, seeking extension, cross-examination, establishment of confidentiality rings, third-party applications and impleadment etc.

Now all such applications will attract fees ranging from ₹500 to ₹5,000 depending on the category of the applicant. The fees have now been notified after seeking public comments on the same. 

By imposing these fees, the Commission aims to deter parties from making superfluous requests that can prolong the resolution of cases. This move is anticipated to bring about a more disciplined approach to the proceedings before the Commission, thus contributing to the quicker resolution of competition law disputes. 

CCI has, as part of the latest changes, provided that all interlocutory applications would have to be scrutinised within seven days of being received.

While CCI has shown great degree of alacrity in introducing such fees, the other critical reforms are awaited, sources said. This latest move is an independent exercise and has nothing to do with the Competition (amendment) Act 2023, they added. 

All the four to five regulations expected to be rolled out under the Competition (amendment) Act 2023 are yet to be finalised and issued, they added.

India Inc had in general expressed concern over CCI’s proposal to introduce filing fees on miscellaneous applications with some even making a case for cost-benefit analysis.

As part of the latest regulatory changes, CCI has also introduced the concept of numbering of interlocutory applications.

This will streamline the procedure for tracking interlocutory applications so that they are not lost in the maze of record and their faster disposal, experts said. 

Samir Gandhi, Co-Founder and Partner, Axiom5 Law Chambers, a law firm, said that the inclusion of timelines in the newly notified regulations shows that the CCI is open to feedback and is a positive step.

This will hasten time-bound and efficient decisions being taken since all interlocutory applications must be scrutinised within seven days of being received, he added.