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Table of Contents
Authority: 15 U.S.C. 46, unless otherwise noted.
Commission investigations and inquiries may be originated upon the request of the President, Congress, governmental agencies, or the Attorney General; upon referrals by the courts; upon complaint by members of the public; or by the Commission upon its own initiative. The Commission has delegated to the Director, Deputy Directors, and Assistant Directors of the Bureau of Competition, the Director, Deputy Directors, and Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection and, the Regional Directors and Assistant Regional Directors of the Commission's regional offices, without power of redelegation, limited authority to initiate investigations. The Director of the Bureau of Competition has also been delegated, without power of redelegation, authority to open investigations in response to requests pursuant to an agreement under the International Antitrust Enforcement Assistance Act, 15 U.S.C. 6201 et seq., if the requests do not ask the Commission to use process. Before responding to such a request, the Bureau Director shall transmit the proposed response to the Secretary and the Secretary shall notify the Commission of the proposed response. If no Commissioner objects within three days following the Commission's receipt of such notification, the Secretary shall inform the Bureau Director that he or she may proceed.
[48 FR 41374, Sept. 15, 1983, as amended at 50 FR 53304, Dec. 31, 1985; 65 FR 67259, Nov. 9, 2000]
(a) A complaint or request for Commission action may be submitted via the Commission's web-based complaint site (https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/); by a telephone call to 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); or by a signed statement setting forth the alleged violation of law with such supporting information as is available, and the name and address of the person or persons complained of, filed with the Office of the Secretary in conformity with §4.2(d) of this chapter. No forms or formal procedures are required.
(b) The person making the complaint or request is not regarded as a party to any proceeding that might result from the investigation.
(c) Where the complainant's identity is not otherwise made public, the Commission's policy is not to publish or divulge the name of a complainant except as authorized by law or by the Commission's rules. Complaints or requests submitted to the Commission may, however, be lodged in a database and made available to federal, state, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies that commit to maintain the privacy and security of the information provided. Further, where a complaint is by a consumer or consumer representative concerning a specific consumer product or service, the Commission in the course of a referral of the complaint or request, or in furtherance of an investigation, may disclose the identity of the complainant. In referring any such consumer complaint, the Commission specifically retains its right to take such action as it deems appropriate in the public interest and under any of the statutes it administers.
[77 FR 59305, Sept. 27, 2012]
The Commission acts only in the public interest and does not initiate an investigation or take other action when the alleged violation of law is merely a matter of private controversy and does not tend adversely to affect the public.
[32 FR 8446, June 13, 1967]
Consistent with obtaining the information it needs for investigations, including documentary material, the Commission encourages the just and speedy resolution of investigations. The Commission will therefore employ compulsory process when in the public interest. The Commission encourages cooperation in its investigations. In all matters, whether involving compulsory process or voluntary requests for documents and information, the Commission expects all parties to engage in meaningful discussions with staff to prevent confusion or misunderstandings regarding the nature and scope of the information and material being sought, in light of the inherent value of genuinely cooperative discovery.
[77 FR 59305, Sept. 27, 2012]
Inquiries and investigations are conducted under the various statutes administered by the Commission by Commission representatives designated and duly authorized for the purpose. Such representatives are “examiners” or “Commission investigators” within the meaning of the Federal Trade Commission Act and are authorized to exercise and perform the duties of their office in accordance with the laws of the United States and the regulations of the Commission. Included among such duties is the administration of oaths and affirmations in any matter under investigation by the Commission.
[45 FR 36341, May 29, 1980]
Any person, partnership, or corporation under investigation compelled or requested to furnish information or documentary material shall be advised of the purpose and scope of the investigation, the nature of the acts or practices under investigation, and the applicable provisions of law. A copy of a Commission resolution, as prescribed under §2.7(a), shall be sufficient to give persons, partnerships, or corporations notice of the purpose of the investigation. While investigations are generally nonpublic, Commission staff may disclose the existence of an investigation to potential witnesses or other third parties to the extent necessary to advance the investigation.
[77 FR 59305, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) In general. When the public interest warrants, the Commission may issue a resolution authorizing the use of compulsory process. The Commission or any Commissioner may, pursuant to a Commission resolution, issue a subpoena, or a civil investigative demand, directing the recipient named therein to appear before a designated representative at a specified time and place to testify or to produce documentary material, or both, and in the case of a civil investigative demand, to provide a written report or answers to questions, relating to any matter under investigation by the Commission. For the purposes of this subpart, the term:
(1) Electronically stored information (“ESI”) means any writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images and other data or data compilations stored in any electronic medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form.
(2) “Documentary material” includes all documents, materials, and information, including ESI, within the meaning of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
(3) “Compulsory process” means any subpoena, CID, access order, or order for a report issued by the Commission.
(4) “Protected status” refers to information or material that may be withheld from production or disclosure on the grounds of any privilege, work product protection, or statutory exemption.
(b) Civil Investigative Demands. Civil Investigative Demands (“CIDs”) shall be the only form of compulsory process issued in investigations with respect to unfair or deceptive acts or practices under section 5(a)(1) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (hereinafter referred to as “unfair or deceptive acts or practices”).
(1) CIDs for the production of documentary material, including ESI, shall describe each class of material to be produced with sufficient definiteness and certainty as to permit such material to be fairly identified, prescribe a return date providing a reasonable period of time within which the material so demanded may be assembled and made available for inspection and copying or reproduction, and identify the Commission's custodian to whom such material shall be made available. Documentary material, including ESI, for which a CID has been issued shall be made available as prescribed in the CID. Such productions shall be made in accordance with the procedures prescribed by section 20(c)(11) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(2) CIDs for tangible things, including electronic media, shall describe each class of tangible thing to be produced with sufficient definiteness and certainty as to permit each such thing to be fairly identified, prescribe a return date providing a reasonable period of time within which the things so demanded may be assembled and submitted, and identify the Commission's custodian to whom such things shall be submitted. Submission of tangible things in response to a CID shall be made in accordance with the procedures prescribed by section 20(c)(12) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(3) CIDs for written reports or answers to questions shall propound with sufficient definiteness and certainty the reports to be produced or the questions to be answered, prescribe a return date, and identify the Commission's custodian to whom such reports or answers to questions shall be submitted. The submission of written reports or answers to questions in response to a CID shall be made in accordance with the procedures prescribed by section 20(c)(13) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(4) CIDs for the giving of oral testimony shall prescribe a date, time, and place at which oral testimony shall commence, and identify the hearing official and the Commission custodian. Oral testimony in response to a CID shall be taken in accordance with the procedures set forth in section 20(c)(14) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(c) Subpoenas. Except in investigations with respect to unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the Commission may require by subpoena the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of documentary material relating to any matter under investigation. Subpoenas for the production of documentary material, including ESI, shall describe each class of material to be produced with sufficient definiteness and certainty as to permit such material to be fairly identified, prescribe a return date providing a reasonable period of time for production, and identify the Commission's custodian to whom such material shall be made available. A subpoena may require the attendance of the witness or the production of documentary material at any place in the United States.
(d) Special reports. Except in investigations regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the Commission may issue an order requiring a person, partnership, or corporation to file a written report or answers to specific questions relating to any matter under investigation, study or survey, or under any of the Commission's reporting programs.
(e) Commission orders requiring access. Except in investigations regarding unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the Commission may issue an order requiring any person, partnership, or corporation under investigation to grant access to their files, including electronic media, for the purpose of examination and to make copies.
(f) Investigational hearings. (1) Investigational hearings may be conducted in the course of any investigation undertaken by the Commission, including rulemaking proceedings under subpart B of part 1 of this chapter, inquiries initiated for the purpose of determining whether a respondent is complying with an order of the Commission or to monitor performance under, and compliance with, a decree entered in suits brought by the United States under the antitrust laws, the development of facts in cases referred by the courts to the Commission as a master in chancery, and investigations made under section 5 of the Webb-Pomerene (Export Trade) Act.
(2) Investigational hearings shall be conducted by one or more Commission employees designated for the purpose of hearing the testimony of witnesses (the “hearing official”) and receiving documents and information relating to any subject under investigation. Such hearings shall be under oath or affirmation, stenographically recorded, and the transcript made a part of the record of the investigation. The Commission may, in addition, employ other means to record the hearing.
(3) Unless otherwise ordered by the Commission, investigational hearings shall not be public. For investigational hearings conducted pursuant to a CID for the giving of oral testimony, the hearing official shall exclude from the hearing room all persons other than the person being examined, counsel for the person being examined, Commission staff, and any stenographer or other person recording such testimony. A copy of the transcript shall promptly be forwarded by the hearing official to the Commission custodian designated under §2.16 of this part. At the discretion of the hearing official, and with the consent of the person being examined (or, in the case of an entity, its counsel), persons other than Commission staff, court reporters, and the hearing official may be present in the hearing room.
(g) Depositions. Except in investigations with respect to unfair or deceptive acts or practices, the Commission may order by subpoena a deposition pursuant to section 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, of any person, partnership, or corporation, at any stage of an investigation. The deposition shall take place upon notice to the subjects of the investigation, and the examination and cross-examination may proceed as they would at trial. Depositions shall be conducted by a hearing official, for the purpose of hearing the testimony of witnesses and receiving documents and information relating to any subject under investigation. Depositions shall be under oath or affirmation, stenographically recorded, and the transcript made a part of the record of the investigation. The Commission may, in addition, employ other means to record the deposition.
(h) Testimony from an entity. Where Commission compulsory process requires oral testimony from an entity, the compulsory process shall describe with reasonable particularity the matters for examination and the entity must designate one or more officers, directors, or managing agents, or designate other persons who consent, to testify on its behalf. Unless a single individual is designated by the entity, the entity must designate in advance and in writing the matters on which each designee will testify. The persons designated must testify about information known or reasonably available to the entity and their testimony shall be binding upon the entity.
(i) Inspection, copying, testing, and sampling of documentary material, including electronic media. The Commission, through compulsory process, may require the production of documentary material, or electronic media or other tangible things, for inspection, copying, testing, or sampling.
(j) Manner and form of production of ESI. When Commission compulsory process requires the production of ESI, it shall be produced in accordance with the instructions provided by Commission staff regarding the manner and form of production. All instructions shall be followed by the recipient of the process absent written permission to the contrary from a Commission official identified in paragraph (l) of this section. Absent any instructions as to the form for producing ESI, ESI must be produced in the form or forms in which it is ordinarily maintained or in a reasonably usable form.
(k) Mandatory pre-petition meet and confer process. Unless excused in writing or granted an extension of no more than 30 days by a Commission official identified in paragraph (l) of this section, a recipient of Commission compulsory process shall meet and confer with Commission staff within 14 days after receipt of process or before the deadline for filing a petition to quash, whichever is first, to discuss compliance and to address and attempt to resolve all issues, including issues relating to protected status and the form and manner in which claims of protected status will be asserted. The initial meet and confer session and all subsequent meet and confer sessions may be in person or by telephone. The recipient must make available personnel with the knowledge necessary for resolution of the issues relevant to compliance with compulsory process. Such personnel could include individuals knowledgeable about the recipient's information or records management systems, individuals knowledgeable about other relevant materials such as organizational charts, and persons knowledgeable about samples of material required to be produced. If any issues relate to ESI, the recipient shall have a person familiar with its ESI systems and methods of retrieval participate in the meeting. The Commission will not consider petitions to quash or limit absent a pre-filing meet and confer session with Commission staff and, absent extraordinary circumstances, will consider only issues raised during the meet and confer process.
(l) Delegations regarding CIDs and subpoenas. The Directors of the Bureau of Competition, Consumer Protection, or Economics, their Deputy Directors, the Assistant Directors of the Bureaus of Competition and Economics, the Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Regional Directors, and the Assistant Regional Directors are all authorized to modify and, in writing, approve the terms of compliance with all compulsory process, including subpoenas, CIDs, reporting programs, orders requiring reports, answers to questions, and orders requiring access. If a recipient of compulsory process has demonstrated satisfactory progress toward compliance, a Commission official identified in this paragraph may, at his or her discretion, extend the time for compliance with Commission compulsory process. The subpoena power conferred by section 329 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6299) and section 5 of the Webb-Pomerene (Export Trade) Act (15 U.S.C. 65) are specifically included within this delegation of authority.
[77 FR 59305, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) Any person compelled to submit data to the Commission or to testify in a deposition or investigational hearing shall be entitled to retain a copy or, on payment of lawfully prescribed costs, procure a copy of any document submitted, and of any testimony as stenographically recorded, except that in a nonpublic hearing the witness may for good cause be limited to inspection of the official transcript of the testimony. Upon completion of transcription of the testimony, the witness shall be offered an opportunity to read the transcript. Any changes by the witness shall be entered and identified upon the transcript by the hearing official, together with a statement of the reasons given by the witness for requesting such changes. After the changes are entered, the transcript shall be signed by the witness unless the witness cannot be found, is ill and unavailable, waives in writing his or her right to sign, or refuses to sign. If the transcript is not signed by the witness within 30 days of having been afforded a reasonable opportunity to review it, the hearing official shall sign the transcript and state on the hearing record the fact of the waiver, illness, absence of the witness, or the refusal to sign, together with any reasons given for the failure to sign, as prescribed by section 20(c)(14)(E)(ii) of the Federal Trade Commission Act.
(b) Any witness compelled to appear in person in a deposition or investigational hearing may be accompanied, represented, and advised by counsel, as follows:
(1) In depositions or investigational hearings conducted pursuant to section 9 of the Federal Trade Commission Act, counsel may not consult with the witness while a question directed to a witness is pending, except with respect to issues involving protected status.
(2) Any objection during a deposition or investigational hearing shall be stated concisely on the hearing record in a nonargumentative and nonsuggestive manner. Neither the witness nor counsel shall otherwise object or refuse to answer any question. Following an objection, the examination shall proceed and the testimony shall be taken, except for testimony requiring the witness to divulge information protected by the claim of protected status. Counsel may instruct a witness not to answer only when necessary to preserve a claim of protected status.
(3) The hearing official may elect to recess the deposition or investigational hearing and reconvene the deposition or hearing at a later date to continue a course of inquiry interrupted by any objection made under paragraph (b)(1) or (2) of this section. The hearing official shall provide written notice of the date of the reconvened deposition or hearing to the witness, which may be in the form of an email or facsimile. Failure to reappear or to file a petition to limit or quash in accordance with §2.10 of this part shall constitute noncompliance with Commission compulsory process for the purposes of a Commission enforcement action under §2.13 of this part.
(4) In depositions or investigational hearings, immediately following the examination of a witness by the hearing official, the witness or his or her counsel may on the hearing record request that the hearing official permit the witness to clarify any answers. The grant or denial of such request shall be within the discretion of the hearing official and would ordinarily be granted except for good cause stated and explained on the hearing record, and with an opportunity for counsel to undertake to correct the expressed concerns of the hearing official or otherwise to reply.
(5) The hearing official shall conduct the deposition or investigational hearing in a manner that avoids unnecessary delay, and prevents and restrains disorderly or obstructionist conduct. The hearing official shall, where appropriate, report pursuant to §4.1(e) of this chapter any instance where an attorney, in the course of the deposition or hearing, has allegedly refused to comply with his or her directions, or has allegedly engaged in conduct addressed in §4.1(e). The Commission may take any action as circumstances may warrant under §4.1(e) of this chapter.
[77 FR 59307, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) In general. (1) Petitions. Any petition to limit or quash any compulsory process shall be filed with the Secretary within 20 days after service of the Commission compulsory process or, if the return date is less than 20 days after service, prior to the return date. Such petition shall set forth all assertions of protected status or other factual and legal objections to the Commission compulsory process, including all appropriate arguments, affidavits, and other supporting documentation. Such petition shall not exceed 5,000 words, including all headings, footnotes, and quotations, but excluding the cover, table of contents, table of authorities, glossaries, copies of the compulsory process order or excerpts thereof, appendices containing only sections of statutes or regulations, the statement required by paragraph (a)(2) of this section, and affidavits and other supporting documentation. Petitions to limit or quash that fail to comply with these provisions shall be rejected by the Secretary pursuant to §4.2(g) of this chapter.
(2) Statement. Each petition filed pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section shall be accompanied by a signed separate statement representing that counsel for the petitioner has conferred with Commission staff pursuant to §2.7(k) of this part in an effort in good faith to resolve by agreement the issues raised by the petition and has been unable to reach such an agreement. If some of the issues in controversy have been resolved by agreement, the statement shall, in a nonargumentative manner, specify the issues so resolved and the issues remaining unresolved. The statement shall recite the date, time, and place of each conference between counsel, and the names of all parties participating in each such conference. Failure to include the required statement may result in a denial of the petition.
(3) Reconvened investigational hearings or depositions. If the hearing official elects pursuant to §2.9(b)(3) of this part to recess the investigational hearing or deposition and reconvene it at a later date, the witness compelled to reappear may challenge the reconvening by filing with the Secretary a petition to limit or quash the reconvening of the hearing or deposition. Such petition shall be filed within 5 days after receiving written notice of the reconvened hearing; shall set forth all assertions of protected status or other factual and legal objections to the reconvening of the hearing or deposition, including all appropriate arguments, affidavits, and other supporting documentation; and shall be subject to the word count limit in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. Except for good cause shown, the Commission will not consider issues presented and ruled upon in any earlier petition filed by or on behalf of the witness.
(4) Staff reply. Commission staff may, without serving the petitioner, provide the Commission a statement that shall set forth any factual and legal response to the petition to limit or quash.
(5) Extensions of time. The Directors of the Bureaus of Competition, Consumer Protection, and Economics, their Deputy Directors, the Assistant Directors of the Bureaus of Competition and Economics, the Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Regional Directors, and the Assistant Regional Directors are delegated, without power of redelegation, the authority to rule upon requests for extensions of time within which to file petitions to limit or quash Commission compulsory process.
(b) Stay of compliance period. The timely filing of a petition to limit or quash any Commission compulsory process shall stay the remaining amount of time permitted for compliance as to the portion or portions of the challenged specifications or provisions. If the petition is denied in whole or in part, the ruling by the Commission shall specify new terms for compliance, including a new return date, for the Commission's compulsory process.
(c) Disposition and review. The Commission will issue an order ruling on a petition to limit or quash within 30 days after the petition is filed with the Secretary. The order may be served on the petitioner via email, facsimile, or any other method reasonably calculated to provide notice to the petitioner of the order.
(d) Public disclosure. All petitions to limit or quash Commission compulsory process and all Commission orders in response to those petitions shall become part of the public records of the Commission, except for information granted confidential treatment under §4.9(c) of this chapter.
[77 FR 59308, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a)(1) Any person withholding information or material responsive to an investigational subpoena, CID, access order, or order to file a report issued pursuant to §2.7 of this part, or any other request for production of material issued under this part, shall assert a claim of protected status, as that term is defined in §2.7(a)(4), not later than the date set for the production of the material. The claim of protected status shall include a detailed log of the items withheld, which shall be attested by the lead attorney or attorney responsible for supervising the review of the material and who made the determination to assert the claim. A document, including all attachments, may be withheld or redacted only to the extent necessary to preserve any claim of protected status. The information provided in the log shall be of sufficient detail to enable the Commission staff to assess the validity of the claim for each document, including attachments, without disclosing the protected information. The failure to provide information sufficient to support a claim of protected status may result in a denial of the claim. Absent an instruction as to the form and content of the log, the log shall be submitted in a searchable electronic format, and shall, for each document, including attachments, provide:
(i) Document control number(s);
(ii) The full title (if the withheld material is a document) and the full file name (if the withheld material is in electronic form);
(iii) A description of the material withheld (for example, a letter, memorandum, or email), including any attachments;
(iv) The date the material was created;
(v) The date the material was sent to each recipient (if different from the date the material was created);
(vi) The email addresses, if any, or other electronic contact information to the extent used in the document, from which and to which each document was sent;
(vii) The names, titles, business addresses, email addresses or other electronic contact information, and relevant affiliations of all authors;
(viii) The names, titles, business addresses, email addresses or other electronic contact information, and relevant affiliations of all recipients of the material;
(ix) The names, titles, business addresses, email addresses or other electronic contact information, and relevant affiliations of all persons copied on the material;
(x) The factual basis supporting the claim that the material is protected (for example, that it was prepared by an attorney rendering legal advice to a client in a confidential communication, or prepared by an attorney in anticipation of litigation regarding a specifically identified claim); and
(xi) Any other pertinent information necessary to support the assertion of protected status by operation of law.
(2) Each attorney who is an author, recipient, or person copied on the material shall be identified in the log by an asterisk. The titles, business addresses, email addresses, and relevant affiliations of all authors, recipients, and persons copied on the material may be provided in a legend appended to the log. However, the information required by paragraph (a)(1)(vi) of this section shall be provided in the log.
(b) A person withholding responsive material solely for the reasons described in paragraph (a) of this section shall meet and confer with Commission staff pursuant to §2.7(k) of this part to discuss and attempt to resolve any issues associated with the manner and form in which privilege or protection claims will be asserted. The participants in the meet and confer session may agree to modify the logging requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this section. The failure to comply with paragraph (a) shall constitute noncompliance subject to judicial enforcement under §2.13(a) of this part.
(c) Unless otherwise provided in the instructions accompanying the compulsory process, and except for information or material subject to a valid claim of protected status, all responsive information and material shall be produced without redaction.
(d)(1)(i) The disclosure of material protected by the attorney-client privilege or as work product shall not operate as a waiver if:
(A) The disclosure is inadvertent;
(B) The holder of the privilege or protection took reasonable steps to prevent disclosure; and
(C) The holder promptly took reasonable steps to rectify the error, including notifying Commission staff of the claim and the basis for it.
(ii) After being so notified, Commission staff must:
(A) Promptly return or destroy the specified material and any copies, not use or disclose the material until any dispute as to the validity of the claim is resolved; and take reasonable measures to retrieve the material from all persons to whom it was disclosed before being notified; or
(B) Sequester such material until such time as an Administrative Law Judge or court may rule on the merits of the claim of privilege or protection in a proceeding or action resulting from the investigation.
(iii) The producing party must preserve the material until the claim of privilege or protection is resolved, the investigation is closed, or any enforcement proceeding is concluded.
(2) When a disclosure is made that waives attorney-client privilege or work product, the waiver extends to an undisclosed communication or information only if:
(i) The waiver is intentional;
(ii) The disclosed and undisclosed information or material concern the same subject matter; and
(iii) They ought in fairness to be considered together.
[77 FR 59308, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) In cases of failure to comply with Commission compulsory processes, appropriate action may be initiated by the Commission or the Attorney General, including actions for enforcement, forfeiture, civil penalties, or criminal sanctions. The Commission may also take any action as the circumstances may warrant under §4.1(e) of this chapter.
(b) The General Counsel, pursuant to delegation of authority by the Commission, without power of redelegation, is authorized, when he or she deems appropriate:
(1) To initiate, on behalf of the Commission, an enforcement proceeding in connection with the failure or refusal of a recipient to comply with, or to obey, a subpoena, a CID, or an access order, if the return date or any extension thereof has passed, or if the recipient breaches any modification regarding compliance;
(2) To approve and have prepared and issued, in the name of the Commission, a notice of default in connection with the failure of a recipient of an order to file a report pursuant to section 6(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act to timely file that report, if the return date or any extension thereof has passed; to initiate, on behalf of the Commission, an enforcement proceeding; or to request to the Attorney General, on behalf of the Commission, to initiate a civil action in connection with the failure of such recipient to timely file a report, when the return date or any extension thereof has passed;
(3) To initiate, on behalf of the Commission, an enforcement proceeding under section 7A(g)(2) of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 18a(g)(2)) in connection with the failure to substantially comply with any request for the submission of additional information or documentary material under section 7A(e)(1) of the Clayton Act (15 U.S.C. 18a(e)(1)), provided that the General Counsel shall provide notice to the Commission at least 2 days before initiating such action; and
(4) To seek an order of civil contempt in cases where a court order enforcing compulsory process has been violated.
[77 FR 59309, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) When an investigation indicates that corrective action is warranted, and the matter is not subject to a consent settlement pursuant to subpart C of this part, the Commission may initiate further proceedings.
(b) When corrective action is not necessary or warranted in the public interest, the investigation shall be closed. The matter may nevertheless be further investigated at any time if circumstances so warrant.
(c) In matters in which a recipient of a preservation demand, an access letter, or Commission compulsory process has not been notified that an investigation has been closed or otherwise concluded, after a period of twelve months following the last written communication from the Commission staff to the recipient or the recipient's counsel, the recipient is relieved of any obligation to continue preserving information, documentary material, or evidence, for purposes of responding to the Commission's process or the staff's access letter. The “written communication” may be in the form of a letter, an email, or a facsimile.
(d) The Commission has delegated to the Directors of the Bureaus of Competition and Consumer Protection, their Deputy Directors, the Assistant Directors of the Bureau of Competition, the Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and the Regional Directors, without power of redelegation, limited authority to close investigations.
[77 FR 59309, Sept. 27, 2012]
(a) The Bureau Director, Deputy Directors, and Assistant Directors in the Bureaus of Competition and Economics, the Bureau Director, Deputy Directors and Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Regional Directors and Assistant Regional Directors are hereby authorized to request, through the Commission's liaison officer, approval from the Attorney General for the issuance of an order requiring a witness to testify or provide other information granting immunity under title 18, section 6002, of the United States Code.
(b) The Commission retains the right to review the exercise of any of the functions delegated under paragraph (a) of this section. Appeals to the Commission from an order requiring a witness to testify or provide other information will be entertained by the Commission only upon a showing that a substantial question is involved, the determination of which is essential to serve the interests of justice. Such appeals shall be made on the record and shall be in the form of a brief not to exceed fifteen (15) pages in length and shall be filed within five (5) days after notice of the complained of action. The appeal shall not operate to suspend the hearing unless otherwise determined by the person conducting the hearing or ordered by the Commission.
(18 U.S.C. 6002, 6004)
[37 FR 5016, Mar. 9, 1972, as amended at 48 FR 41375, Sept. 15, 1983; 61 FR 50645, Sept. 26, 1996]
(a) Designation. The Commission shall designate a custodian and one or more deputy custodians for material to be delivered pursuant to compulsory process in an investigation, a purpose of which is to determine whether any person may have violated any provision of the laws administered by the Commission. The custodian shall have the powers and duties prescribed by section 21 of the FTC Act. Deputy custodians may perform all of the duties assigned to custodians. The appropriate Bureau Directors, Deputy Directors, Associate Directors in the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Assistant Directors in the Bureau of Competition, Regional Directors or Assistant Regional Directors shall take the action required by section 21(b)(7) of the FTC Act if it is necessary to replace a custodian or deputy custodian.
(b) Copying of custodial documents. The custodian designated pursuant to section 21 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (subject to the general supervision of the Executive Director) may, from among the material submitted, select the material the copying of which is necessary or appropriate for the official use of the Commission, and shall determine, the number of copies of any such material that are to be reproduced. Copies of material in the physical possession of the custodian may be reproduced by or under the authority of an employee of the Commission designated by the custodian.
(c) Material produced pursuant to the Federal Trade Commission Act, while in the custody of the custodian, shall be for the official use of the Commission in accordance with the Act; but such material shall upon reasonable notice to the custodian be made available for examination by the person who produced such material, or his duly authorized representative, during regular office hours established for the Commission.
[45 FR 36343, May 29, 1980, as amended at 46 FR 26291, May 12, 1981; 48 FR 41376, Sept. 15, 1983; 50 FR 53305, Dec. 31, 1985]
Upon authorization by the Commissioner who issues compulsory process pursuant to §2.7(a) or, alternatively, upon authorization by the General Counsel, Commission attorneys may seek to delay notifications or prohibit disclosures pursuant to the Right to Financial Privacy Act (12 U.S.C. 3409), the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (18 U.S.C. 2705), or section 7 of the U.S. SAFE WEB Act (15 U.S.C. 57b-2a).
[76 FR 54691, Sept. 2, 2011]
Authority: 15 U.S.C. 18a(d), (e).
(a) For purposes of this section, “second request” refers to a request for additional information or documentary material issued under 16 CFR 803.20.
(b) Second request procedures—(1) Notice. Every request for additional information or documentary material issued under 16 CFR 803.20 shall inform the recipient(s) of the request that the recipient has a right to discuss modifications or clarifications of the request with an authorized representative of the Commission. The request shall identify the name and telephone number of at least one such representative.
(2) Second request conference. An authorized representative of the Commission shall invite the recipient to discuss the request for additional information or documentary material soon after the request is issued. At the conference, the authorized representative shall discuss the competitive issues raised by the proposed transaction, to the extent then known, and confer with the recipient about the most effective way to obtain information and documents relating to the competitive issues raised. The conference will ordinarily take place within 5 business days of issuance of the request, unless the recipient declines the invitation or requests a later date.
(3) Modification of requests. The authorized representative shall modify the request for additional information or documentary material, or recommend such modification to the responsible Assistant Director of the Bureau of Competition, if he or she determines that a less burdensome request would be consistent with the needs of the investigation. A request for additional information or documentary material may be modified only in writing signed by the authorized representative.
(4) Review of request decisions. (i) If the recipient of a request for additional information or documentary material believes that compliance with portions of the request should not be required and the recipient has exhausted reasonable efforts to obtain clarifications or modifications of the request from an authorized representative, the recipient may petition the General Counsel to consider and rule on unresolved issues. Such petition shall be submitted by letter to the General Counsel with a copy to the authorized representative who participated in the second request conference held under paragraph (b)(3) of this section. The petition shall not, without leave of the General Counsel, exceed 500 words, excluding any cover, table of contents, table of authorities, glossaries, proposed form of relief and any appendices containing only sections of statutes or regulations, and shall address petitioner's efforts to obtain modification from the authorized representative.
(ii) Within 2 business days after receiving such a petition, the General Counsel shall set a date for a conference with the petitioner and the authorized representative.
(iii) Such conference shall take place within 7 business days after the General Counsel receives the petition, unless the request recipient agrees to a later date or declines to attend a conference.
(iv) Not later than 3 business days before the date of the conference, the petitioner and the authorized representative may each submit memoranda regarding the issues presented in the petition. Such memoranda shall not, without leave of the General Counsel, exceed 1250 words, excluding any cover, table of contents, table of authorities, glossaries, proposed form of relief and appendices containing only sections of statutes or regulations. Such memoranda shall be delivered to counsel for the other participants on the same day they are delivered to the General Counsel.
(v) The petitioner's memorandum shall include a concise statement of reasons why the request should be modified, together with proposed modifications, or a concise explanation why the recipient believes it has substantially complied with the request for additional information or documentary material.
(vi) The authorized representative's memorandum shall include a concise statement of reasons why the petitioner's proposed modifications are inappropriate or a concise statement of the reasons why the representative believes that the petitioner has not substantially complied with the request for additional information and documentary material.
(vii) The General Counsel shall advise the petitioner and the authorized representative of his or her decision within 3 business days following the conference.
[66 FR 8721, Feb. 1, 2001]
(a) Where time, the nature of the proceeding, and the public interest permit, any individual, partnership, or corporation being investigated shall be afforded the opportunity to submit through the operating Bureau or Regional Office having responsibility in the matter a proposal for disposition of the matter in the form of a consent order agreement executed by the party being investigated and complying with the requirements of §2.32, for consideration by the Commission in connection with a proposed complaint submitted by the Commission's staff.
(b) After a complaint has been issued, the consent order procedure described in this part will not be available except as provided in §3.25(b).
[40 FR 15235, Apr. 4, 1975]
Every agreement in settlement of a Commission complaint shall contain, in addition to an appropriate proposed order, either an admission of the proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law submitted simultaneously by the Commission's staff or an admission of all jurisdictional facts and an express waiver of the requirement that the Commission's decision contain a statement of findings of fact and conclusions of law. Every agreement also shall waive further procedural steps and all rights to seek judicial review or otherwise to challenge or contest the validity of the order. In addition, where appropriate, every agreement in settlement of a Commission complaint challenging the lawfulness of a proposed merger or acquisition shall also contain a hold-separate or asset-maintenance order. The agreement may state that the signing thereof is for settlement purposes only and does not constitute an admission by any party that the law has been violated as alleged in the complaint. Every agreement shall provide that:
(a) The complaint may be used in construing the terms of the order;
(b) No agreement, understanding, representation, or interpretation not contained in the order or the aforementioned agreement may be used to vary or to contradict the terms of the order;
(c) The order will have the same force and effect and may be altered, modified or set aside in the same manner provided by statute for Commission orders issued on a litigated or stipulated record;
(d) Except as provided by order of the Commission, any order issued pursuant to the agreement will become final upon service;
(e) The agreement will not become a part of the public record unless and until it is accepted by the Commission; and
(f) If the Commission accepts the agreement, further proceedings will be governed by §2.34.
[64 FR 46268, Aug. 25, 1999]
The Commission may in its discretion require that a proposed agreement containing an order to cease and desist be accompanied by an initial report signed by the respondent setting forth in precise detail the manner in which the respondent will comply with the order when and if entered. Such report will not become part of the public record unless and until the accompanying agreement and order are accepted by the Commission. At the time any such report is submitted a respondent may request confidentiality for any portion thereof with a precise showing of justification therefor as set out in §4.9(c) and the General Counsel or the General Counsel's designee will dispose of such requests in accordance with that section.
[63 FR 32977, June 17, 1998]
(a) Acceptance of proposed consent agreement. The Commission may accept or refuse to accept a proposed consent agreement. Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (c) of this section, acceptance does not constitute final approval, but it serves as the basis for further actions leading to final disposition of the matter.
(b) Effectiveness of hold-separate or asset-maintenance order. Following acceptance of a consent agreement, the Commission will, if it deems a hold-separate or asset-maintenance order appropriate, issue a complaint and such an order as agreed to by the parties. Such order will be final upon service. The issuance of a complaint under this paragraph will neither commence an adjudicatory proceeding subject to part 3 of this chapter nor subject the consent agreement proceeding to the prohibitions specified in §4.7 of this chapter.
(c) Public comment. Promptly after its acceptance of the consent agreement, the Commission will place the order contained in the consent agreement, the complaint, and the consent agreement on the public record for a period of 30 days, or such other period as the Commission may specify, for the receipt of comments or views from any interested person. At the same time, the Commission will place on the public record an explanation of the provisions of the order and the relief to be obtained thereby and any other information that it believes may help interested persons understand the order. The Commission also will publish the explanation in the Federal Register. The Commission retains the discretion to issue a complaint and a Final Decision and Order, incorporating the order contained in a consent agreement, in appropriate cases before seeking public comment. Unless directed otherwise by the Commission, such Decision and Order will be final upon service.
(d) Comment on initial compliance report. If respondents have filed an initial report of compliance pursuant to §2.33, the Commission will place that report on the public record, except for portions, if any, granted confidential treatment pursuant to §4.9(c) of this chapter, with the complaint, the order, and the consent agreement.
(e) Action following comment period. (1) Following the comment period, on the basis of comments received or otherwise, the Commission may either withdraw its acceptance of the agreement and so notify respondents, in which event it will take such other action as it may consider appropriate, or issue and serve its complaint in such form as the circumstances may require and its decision in disposition of the proceeding.
(2) The Commission, following the comment period, may determine, on the basis of the comments or otherwise, that a Final Decision and Order that was issued in advance of the comment period should be modified. Absent agreement by respondents to the modifications, the Commission may initiate a proceeding to reopen and modify the decision and order in accordance with §3.72(b) of this chapter or commence a new administrative proceeding by issuing a complaint in accordance with §3.11 of this chapter.
[64 FR 46269, Aug. 25, 1999]
(a) In every proceeding in which the Commission has issued an order pursuant to the provisions of section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act or section 11 of the Clayton Act, as amended, and except as otherwise specifically provided in any such order, each respondent named in such order shall file with the Commission, within sixty (60) days after service thereof, or within such other time as may be provided by the order or the rules in this chapter, a report in writing, signed by the respondent, setting forth in detail the manner and form of his compliance with the order, and shall thereafter file with the Commission such further signed, written reports of compliance as it may require. An original and one copy of each such report shall be filed with the Secretary of the Commission, and one copy of each such report shall be filed with the Associate Director for Enforcement in the Bureau of Consumer Protection (for consumer protection orders) or with the Assistant Director for Compliance in the Bureau of Competition (for competition orders). Reports of compliance shall be under oath if so requested. Where the order prohibits the use of a false advertisement of a food, drug, device, or cosmetic which may be injurious to health because of results from its use under the conditions prescribed in the advertisement, or under such conditions as are customary or usual, or if the use of such advertisement is with intent to defraud or mislead, or in any other case where the circumstances so warrant, the order may provide for an interim report stating whether and how respondents intend to comply to be filed within ten (10) days after service of the order. Neither the filing of an application for stay pursuant to §3.56, nor the filing of a petition for judicial review, shall operate to postpone the time for filing a compliance report under the order or this section. If the Commission, or a court, determines to grant a stay of an order, or portion thereof, pending judicial review, or if any order provision is automatically stayed by statute, no compliance report shall be due as to those portions of the order that are stayed unless ordered by the court. Thereafter, as to orders, or portions thereof, that are stayed, the time for filing a report of compliance shall begin to run de novo from the final judicial determination, except that if no petition for certiorari has been filed following affirmance of the order of the Commission by a court of appeals, the compliance report shall be due the day following the date on which the time expires for the filing of such petition. Staff of the Bureaus of Competition and Consumer Protection will review such reports of compliance and may advise each respondent whether the staff intends to recommend that the Commission take any enforcement action. The Commission may, however, institute proceedings, including certification of facts to the Attorney General pursuant to the provisions of section 5(l) of the Federal Trade Commission Act (15 U.S.C. 45(l)) and section 11(1) of the Clayton Act, as amended (15 U.S.C. 21(1)), to enforce compliance with an order, without advising a respondent whether the actions set forth in a report of compliance evidence compliance with the Commission's order or without prior notice of any kind to a respondent.
(b) The Commission has delegated to the Director, the Deputy Directors, and the Assistant Director for Compliance of the Bureau of Competition, and to the Director, the Deputy Directors, and the Associate Director for Enforcement of the Bureau of Consumer Protection the authority to monitor compliance reports and to open and close compliance investigations. With respect to any compliance matter which has received previous Commission consideration as to compliance or in which the Commission or any Commissioner has expressed an interest, any matter proposed to be closed by reason of expense of investigation or testing, or any matter involving substantial questions as to the public interest, Commission policy or statutory construction, the Bureaus shall submit an analysis to the Commission regarding their intended actions.
(c) The Commission has delegated to the Director, Deputy Directors, and Assistant Directors of the Bureau of Competition and to the Director, Deputy Directors, and Associate Directors of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, and to the Regional Directors, the authority, for good cause shown, to extend the time within which reports of compliance with orders to cease and desist may be filed. It is to be noted, however, that an extension of time within which a report of compliance may be filed, or the filing of a report which does not evidence full compliance with the order, does not in any circumstances suspend or relieve a respondent from his obligation under the law with respect to compliance with such order. An order of the Commission to cease and desist becomes final on the date and under the conditions provided in the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act. Any person, partnership or corporation against which an order to cease and desist has been issued who is not in full compliance with such order on and after the date provided in these statutes for the order to become final is in violation of such order and is subject to an immediate action for civil penalties. The authority under this paragraph may not be redelegated, except that the Associate Director for Enforcement in the Bureau of Consumer Protection and the Assistant Director for Compliance in the Bureau of Competition may each name a designee under this paragraph.
(d) Any respondent subject to a Commission order may request advice from the Commission as to whether a proposed course of action, if pursued by it, will constitute compliance with such order. The request for advice should be submitted in writing to the Secretary of the Commission and should include full and complete information regarding the proposed course of action. On the basis of the facts submitted, as well as other information available to the Commission, the Commission will inform the respondent whether or not the proposed course of action, if pursued, would constitute compliance with its order. A request ordinarily will be considered inappropriate for such advice:
(1) Where the course of action is already being followed by the requesting party;
(2) Where the same or substantially the same course of action is under investigation or is or has been the subject of a current proceeding, order, or decree initiated or obtained by the Commission or another governmental agency; or
(3) Where the proposed course of action or its effects may be such that an informed decision thereon cannot be made or could be made only after extensive investigation, clinical study, testing or collateral inquiry.
Furthermore, the filing of a request for advice under this paragraph does not in any circumstances suspend or relieve a respondent from his obligation under the law with respect to his compliance with the order. He must in any event be in full compliance on and after the date the order becomes final as prescribed by statute referred to in paragraph (b) of this section. Advice to respondents under this paragraph will be published by the Commission in the same manner and subject to the same restrictions and considerations as advisory opinions under §1.4 of this chapter.
(e) The Commission may at any time reconsider any advice given under this section and, where the public interest requires, rescind or revoke its prior advice. In such event the respondent will be given notice of the Commission's intent to revoke or rescind and will be given an opportunity to submit its views to the Commission. The Commission will not proceed against a respondent for violation of an order with respect to any action which was taken in good faith reliance upon the Commission's advice under this section, where all relevant facts were fully, completely, and accurately presented to the Commission and where such action was promptly discontinued upon notification of rescission or revocation of the Commission's advice.
(f)(1) All applications for approval of proposed divestitures, acquisitions, or similar transactions subject to Commission review under outstanding orders (including modifications to previously approved transactions) shall fully describe the terms of the transaction or modification and shall set forth why the transaction or modification merits Commission approval. Such applications will be placed on the public record, together with any additional applicant submissions that the Commission directs be placed on the public record. The Director of the Bureau of Competition is delegated authority to direct such placement.
(2) The Commission will receive public comment on a prior approval application submitted pursuant to paragraphs (f)(1) or (5) of this section for thirty (30) days. During the comment period, any person may file formal written objections or comments with the Secretary of the Commission, and such objections or comments shall be placed on the public record. In appropriate cases, the Commission may shorten, eliminate, extend, or reopen a comment period.
(3) Responses to applications under this section, together with a statement of supporting reasons, will be published when made, together with responses to any public comments filed under this section.
(4) Persons submitting information that is subject to public record disclosure under this section may request confidential treatment for that information or portions thereof in accordance with §4.9(c) and the General Counsel or the General Counsel's designee will dispose of such requests in accordance with that section. Nothing in this section requires that confidentiality requests be resolved prior to, or contemporaneously with, the disposition of the application.
(5)(i) Any application to modify either:
(A) An agreement that has been approved by the Commission pursuant to paragraph (f) of this section, or
(B) An agreement incorporated by reference into a final order of the Commission issued in connection with a merger, acquisition, or similar transaction shall be subject to review and approval in the manner described in paragraphs (f)(1) through (4) of this section, except as provided in paragraph (f)(5)(ii) of this section.
(ii) If the application establishes that the proposed modification is purely ministerial, or unlikely under any plausible facts to affect achieving the remedial purposes of the order at issue, the Commission has delegated to the Director, Deputy Directors, and Assistant Director for Compliance of the Bureau of Competition, without power of redelegation, for good cause shown, the authority.
(A) To waive the approval requirement of paragraph (f)(5)(i) of this section; and
(B) To shorten, eliminate, extend or reopen the comment period pursuant to paragraph (f)(2) of this section.
(iii) Any agreement containing a modification approved, or for which the approval requirement is waived, pursuant to this paragraph (f)(5), shall be subject to any outstanding Commission order to the same extent as was the original agreement.
[32 FR 8449, June 13, 1967]
(a) Scope. Any person, partnership, or corporation subject to a Commission decision containing a rule or order which has become effective, or an order to cease and desist which has become final, may file with the Secretary a request that the Commission reopen the proceeding to consider whether the rule or order, including any affirmative relief provision contained therein, should be altered, modified, or set aside in whole or in part.
(b) Contents. A request under this section shall contain a satisfactory showing that changed conditions of law or fact require the rule or order to be altered, modified or set aside, in whole or in part, or that the public interest so requires.
(1) This requirement shall not be deemed satisfied if a request is merely conclusory or otherwise fails to set forth by affidavit(s) specific facts demonstrating in detail:
(i) The nature of the changed conditions and the reasons why they require the requested modifications of the rule or order; or
(ii) The reasons why the public interest would be served by the modification.
(2) Each affidavit shall set forth facts that would be admissible in evidence and shall show that the affiant is competent to testify to the matters stated therein. All information and material that the requester wishes the Commission to consider shall be contained in the request at the time of filing.
(c) Opportunity for public comment. A request under this section shall be placed on the public record except for material exempt from public disclosure under rule 4.10(a). Unless the Commission determines that earlier disposition is necessary, the request shall remain on the public record for thirty (30) days after a press release on the request is issued. Bureau Directors are authorized to publish a notice in the Federal Register announcing the receipt of a request to reopen at their discretion. The public is invited to comment on the request while it is on the public record.
(d) Determination. After the period for public comments on a request under this section has expired and no later than one hundred and twenty (120) days after the date of the filing of the request, the Commission shall determine whether the request complies with paragraph (b) of this section and whether the proceeding shall be reopened and the rule or order should be altered, modified, or set aside as requested. In doing so, the Commission may, in its discretion, issue an order reopening the proceeding and modifying the rule or order as requested, issue an order to show cause pursuant to §3.72, or take such other action as is appropriate: Provided, however, That any action under §3.72 or otherwise shall be concluded within the specified 120-day period.
(Sec. 6(g), 38 Stat. 721 (15 U.S.C. 46(g)); 80 Stat. 383, as amended, 81 Stat. 54 (5 U.S.C. 552))
[45 FR 36344, May 29, 1980, as amended at 46 FR 26291, May 12, 1981; 47 FR 33251, Aug. 2, 1982; 50 FR 53305, Dec. 31, 1985; 53 FR 40868, Oct. 19, 1988; 65 FR 50637, Aug. 21, 2000]