On 16 August 2019, the CAT ruled on the time limit for the Secretary of State to issue a PIIN (and make a Phase 2 reference) in respect of certain acquisitions of shares in Lebedev Holdings Limited (LHL) and Independent Digital News and Media (IDNM) (see Article above). LHL and IDNM argued that this had been made out of time. The CAT bemoaned the complexity of the statutory provisions governing public interest merger cases, describing them as “labyrinthine”. It nonetheless held that what constitutes a relevant merger situation for the purposes of issuing a PIIN is determined in accordance with sections 23 and 24 of the Enterprise Act 2002. This means that the question of whether a relevant merger situation has been created shall be determined at the time at which a PIIN is issued. The PIIN can therefore only catch transactions four months before that date – but the CMA needs to have received notice of “material facts” relating to the transaction, or else such “material facts” need to have been so publicized as to be generally known or ascertainable before the four month period begins. The CAT held that although an article about the transactions had been published in the Financial Times on 25 February 2019, this was not sufficiently detailed to give the CMA the “material facts” – in particular as it did not contain sufficient information on the parties involved. As a result, the CMA did not have notice of the “material facts” until 1 March 2019, when it received LHL’s letter to the Secretary of State explaining the transactions. The PIIN had therefore been validly issued within four months of that date. However, the CAT went on to conclude that the four month time limit also applied to the Secretary of State’s power to make a reference in a public interest case. This had expired on 1 July 2019, so a reference was no longer possible in this case.