Italgas Wins Italian Antitrust Authority Appeal
March 8, 2010
Cleary Gottlieb successfully defended Italgas, Italy’s largest natural gas distributor as part of the SNAM Rete Gas/ENI Group, in the appeal brought by the Italian Antitrust Authority before the Council of State, Italian Supreme Administrative Court. On March 8, 2010, the Council of State upheld the ruling delivered by the lower court in 2005 and held that, in proceedings for alleged breaches of unbundling obligations by undertakings providing services of general economic interest or operating on the market in a monopoly situation, the IAA must guarantee the undertakings’ rights of defense in the same manner and to the same extent as is required by Italian Antitrust Law in proceedings on restrictive agreements and abuses of dominant position. In particular, this entails the obligation to extend the duration of the investigation, to issue a statement of objections and to ensure that the parties have the right to be heard in a final hearing before the commissioners of the IAA. Until the recent decision of the Italian Supreme Administrative Court, the IAA’s practice did not guarantee such rights in connection with breaches of unbundling obligations. As a result of the recent decision, the IAA must adapt its practice and grant the parties enhanced procedural rights.