Transparency of the Swedish Competition Authority

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Vilhelm Persson


The constitutional principle of access to public records and the administrative principle of parties’ right to access their files create transparency in the Swedish Competition Authority. In many ways Swedish law is built on the same ideas as EU law. However, the Swedish constitution requires more specific provisions on confidentiality in statutes decided by the Parliament. As regards the Swedish Competition Authority, five different sections of the law protect confidentiality, depending on who is to be protected, what activities are concerned, what kind of information is involved and how likely it is that someone will be harmed. These detailed provisions can in principle contribute to predictability, limiting the authorities’ discretional power, but they also constitute a complex patchwork that can be difficult to comprehend. A problematic legal conflict would arise if a document were confidential according to EU law, for example to protect trade secrets, but not confidential according to Swedish law. However, so far, EU law has only been invoked to expand the right to access to documents, especially regarding companies that intend to bring action for competition law damages.

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