Marine Log

April 5, 2006

Competition inspectors swoop on Color Line

The EFTA Surveillance Authority confirms that, on April 4, 2006, inspectors from the authority, assisted by officials from the Norwegian Competition Authority, carried out an unannounced inspection at the premises of Norwegian ferry operator Color Line AS.

A statement from the EFTA Surveillance Authority says the purpose of the inspection is to ascertain whether there is evidence of practices contrary to the competition rules of the EEA Agreement on the part of Color Line in relation to its provision of passenger and freight services on ferry routes to and from Norway.

The EEA Agreement aligns the competition rules of the EFTA countries (which include Norway) and the European Community.

Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in antitrust investigations, says the EFTA Surveillance Authority. It adds that the fact that it carries out an inspection does not mean that the company is guilty of anticompetitive behavior nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The EFTA Surveillance Authority says it respects the rights of defense, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.

There is no strict timetable for concluding antitrust investigations. Their duration depends on a number of factors, amongst others the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies involved cooperate and the exercise of the rights of defense.