The Enterprise Act 2002 created the Competition Service; a body corporate and executive non-departmental public body whose purpose is to fund and provide support services to the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Support services covers everything necessary to facilitate the carrying out by the Competition Appeal Tribunal of its statutory functions and includes, for example, administrative staff, accommodation and office equipment.
The Competition Service is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act (the Act) establishes a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities, sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.
The Competition Service (CS) is a public authority for the purposes of the Act. Information received, held or created by the Competition Appeal Tribunal (the Tribunal) in the carrying out of its judicial functions is exempt information and cannot be released under the provisions of the Act. Judgments and other non-confidential documents produced by the Tribunal can be found on the Competition Appeal Tribunal website.
Detailed information on the Act is available on the Information Commissioner’s Office (“the Commissioner”) website.
Before making a request
Before making a request information to the CS, applicants should check if the information has already been published on the publication scheme. If the information cannot be found, applicants can make a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
Making a request
Requests for information should be as specific as possible and give, where appropriate, a relevant time frame, for example 2008 to 2009 or January to April 2009.
Applicants should inform the CS how they would like the information provided to them, for example by post or email.
Applicants should provide their contact details.
When the competition service receives a request
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the Competition Service is required to respond to a request for information within 20 working days following the date on which the request was received. This time limit can be extended if a fee is requested or if the information being sought has to be considered under an exemption to which the public interest test applies.
If a fee is requested, the 20 working day deadline is put on hold and will start running again (from where it stopped, not back to the beginning of the 20 days) when the appropriate fee is received.
If the information being sought has to be considered under an exemption to which the public interest test applies, the timescale is extended by a “reasonable period”. In this instance the Competition Service will inform the applicant of which exemption(s) is being considered and an estimated date by which a decision regarding the application of this exemption is expected to be made.
If the information falls within one of the exemptions of the Freedom of Information Act, it is exempt information and does not have to be disclosed. When that happens, the Competition Servicewill tell the applicant which exemption applies and, in most cases, why the information cannot be released.
The Competition Service is entitled to make a charge for a request for information in accordance with The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004. The Competition Service will inform the applicant where charges may apply.
If the cost of locating, retrieving and extracting the information is £450 or less, the Competition Service may charge for photocopying, printing and postage costs. If the cost is more than £450, the Competition Service is not obliged to comply with the request.