EU's accession to the ECHR and due process rights: Nothing new under the sun?

I have just posted a new paper on SSRN about the potential implications of the EU's accession to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), particularly in terms of the scope and intensity of judicial review of enforcement decisions in competition law cases.

In light of the ongoing discussion on the potential need for reform of the enforcement system of EU competition law to make it compliant with Article 6(1) ECHR, the aim of the paper is to contribute to the debate in a threefold manner by: i) sketching the peculiarities of the enforcement of competition law (in general, but with a focus on EU competition law), which basically derive from the complex and data intensive economic assessments required in most cases; ii) critically appraising the requirements of Article 6(1) ECHR in the field of EU competition law in view of those peculiarities; and, finally, iii) assessing the impact of those requirements in terms of the potentially necessary amendments to the EU competition law enforcement system upon the EU’s accession to the ECHR.

The basic contention of the paper is that, given the specific architecture of the EU competition law enforcement system under Regulation 1/2003 (and the domestic competition laws of Member States) — which have crystallized in a network of highly specialised and independent administrative agencies that, generally, offer procedural guarantees equivalent (or superior) to those of most tribunals in other areas of the law — and as long as an effective (soft or marginal) judicial review mechanism is available to the undertakings affected by sanctions due to EU competition law infringements, no significant changes are required in order to make the system comply with Article 6(1) ECHR. This position is further supported by the express normative assumption that undertakings (or companies) deserve a relatively more limited protection than individuals under the ECHR and, more specifically, under Article 6(1) ECHR — at least as regards non-core due process guarantees, such as the applicable standard of review (and as opposed to ‘core’ due process guarantees such as the presumption of innocence, the principle of equality of arms, the right to have full access to the evidence, or the right not to suffer undue delays).

The full paper is available here: