An independent senior official who is charged with organising hearings and with ensuring that they are properly conducted. The hearing officer thus contributes to the objectivity of the hearing itself, the observance of due process, the respect of the parties’ rights of defence and the objectivity of any decision taken subsequently. The tasks of the hearing officer also include resolving disputes between the Commission services and the parties concerned about the confi- dentiality of documents and access to the file which one or more of the parties claim in order to prepare their defence. The hearing officer reports to the Commissioner with special responsibility for competi- tion; his final report on a competition case is attached to the decision and published in the Official Journal. The terms of reference of the hearing officer are laid down in a Commission decision.

Source: Glossary of terms used in EU competition policy, Antitrust and control of concentrations, European Commission, 2002