NMa Provides Informers with Clarity
The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has drawn up a Policy Rule for Informers [Beleidsregel Informanten]. This policy rule contains the conditions subject to which informers can notify NMa of suspected cartels or other infringements of the Competition Act.
By providing clarity on the way in which NMa treats informers, NMa expects more informers to provide NMa with relevant information. This information is crucial in enabling NMa to carry out its statutory duties, namely the enforcement and proper implementation of the Competition Act and energy and transport legislation. The information provided by informers may lead directly to new investigations, can make a contribution to current investigations or can give NMa better insight into a certain sector.
One of the most important aspects of the policy rule is that an informer whose identity is not known to NMa remains anonymous. If the identity of the informer is known, NMa will only make the informer's identity known if offences had been committed which have to be reported or if a court orders disclosure in a case. To provide better guarantees that informers will remain anonymous, NMa has entered into an agreement with M, a national reporting centre to which crimes can be reported.
Informers can also seek contact with NMa through an intermediary. An intermediary's identity must always be known to NMa and he or she remains the contact person in any further investigations. Informers may make a choice between two types of intermediaries: intermediaries who enjoy the right of non-disclosure and intermediaries without this right. If the intermediary does not enjoy the right of non-disclosure, he or she may be heard by the court as a witness under oath. This carries a risk for informers who wish to remain anonymous. During a hearing, the court may order disclosure of the identity of the informer. The informer does not incur this risk with an intermediary who enjoys the right of non-disclosure.
Anonymous and non-anonymous informers may notify NMa of a possible infringement of the Competition Act in various ways. They can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call NMa's Information Line at 0800-0231885. This number can be contacted on workdays between 0900 hrs and 1700 hrs. Information can also be sent by mail to Netherlands Competition Authority, P.O. box 16326, 2500 BH The Hague, The Netherlands. Address for visitors: Wijnhaven 24, 2511 GA The Hague.
The Policy Rule for Informers can be downloaded from www.acm.nl.