A good legal text book should have several characteristics.
It should be accurate, thorough and clear. It should be as concise and readable as the technicality of the subject-matter permits. It should, if possible, be practical, so that it is useful to practitioners, and at the same time it should raise issues of principle of which everyone needs to be aware even though they may not be frequently debated. It should cover regular practice even when -- indeed, in particular when -- that practice is not embodied in regulations or case law. It should synthesize and state the up-to-date law, while summarizing its development and history as far as may be necessary to make the current law, and the leading cases in it, intelligible. It should avoid irrelevancies and extraneous material, while not failing to mention facts or rules of which, though they are outside the strict terms of reference of the book, the reader may need to be reminded for completeness, or because of gaps in his or her knowledge.
Judged by these standards, Luis Ortiz Blanco has written a valuable book. He has done so at a particularly good time. The importance of procedural principles and rules in the competition law of the European Community is now generally recognized. The law is still developing, for several reasons. This is still a young legal system, and case law is adding to the growing but still relatively small body of legislative and near-legislative rules. The Court of First Instance has now been in operation for several years, and it has done much, in long and detailed judgments, to clarify procedural rules and substantive law. The Commission is improving its procedures, and finding solutions to practical problems. New situations are arising, and with them new legal issues. The implications of the 'general principles of law', proportionality, legal certainty, the rights of the defence, and so on, are still being worked out. Lawyers are being forced to think about questions which they have apparently taken for granted, such as their duty of professional ethics not to mislead the Commission when it is exercising its powers in competition matters. National courts and national authorities, when they are applying Community competition law, are bound by some of these general principles of law. The respective rights of complainants and interveners in different kinds of proceedings are still being clarified. Some of the procedural rules, in particular those on transport and the Merger Regulation, are relatively new, and not all their implications have yet been explored. The apparently different categories of confidential information are still being defined, or at least seen more clearly. National legislatures in a majority of the Member States of the Community have now adopted (with little or no urging from the Community institutions) competition laws based very closely on that of the Community, and they are giving rise to legal issues similar or identical to those arising under Community law itself. Rules which involve the way national