The Global Competition Review has awarded the Competition Authority (CA) three stars (out of a maximum of five) for the year 2008. The GCR is a specialised journal that annually rates the performance of the main competition regulators worldwide, on the basis of information by provided by the regulators themselves. The opinions of external observers connected with competition, such as lawyers, economists and academics, are also taken into account. The three-star rating, maintaining that for 2007, was gained in a year which the Global Competition Review itself recognises as “hard for competition regulators worldwide”. It was also a year in which certain well-positioned regulators saw their ratings fall. The CA is classified as a member of the group rated as „good‟, in the company of competition regulators from countries such as Austria, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, among others. The top rating of five stars was only awarded to the two US regulators and one of the UK regulators, which make up the „elite‟ group. The second category, „very good‟ also covered only a small number of regulators, five in all, namely, the European Commission Directorate General for Competition, the other UK regulator and the regulators from Australia, France and Germany.
In explaining the rating awarded to the CA, the Global Competition Review points out its greater efficiency and rapidity in appraising mergers between undertakings, which, on average, take a maximum of two months in the most simple cases and not more than five months in the most complex ones. According to the Global Competition Review, sources from different quarters were impressed by the CA‟s work in terms of merger operations between undertakings, despite the lower number of operations notified as a result of the crisis. The improvement in efficiency in the field of mergers was one of the suggestions made in the last evaluation carried out by the Global Competition Review.
The international image of the CA – in particular as an active member of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the ICN (International Competition Network) – was another of the „strong points‟ indicated by the Global Competition Review. The government bill for the revision of the Competition Act, which should be tabled this year, is awaited positively, on account of the prospect of closer harmonisation with European legislation and the improvements that it should bring in procedural and substantive terms. The Global Competition Review notes, in particular, the internal reorganisation undertaken by the current Council and the expansion of the legal department, in addition to the high retention rate of qualified personnel, which has ensured great internal stability among the Competition Authority staff. According to the specialists who responded to the Global Competition Review questionnaire, it may be useful to clarify the guidelines followed by the Competition Authority when applying the law, in order to accentuate the consistency of investigations, consolidate legal certainty for undertakings and improve the rate of success in the courts. It should be mentioned that, in 2008, the law courts confirmed three CA decisions that, following the appeal process, became final that year.
The 2008 edition of the Global Competition Review‟s rating report, the ninth of its kind, is the most extensive ever. It analyses the activity of 39 competition regulators in 34 countries.