The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg has set Sept. 22 as the date for its hearing on the Sony BMG merger. The case, filed as "T-464/04 Impala/Commission," was brought by European indepen

The European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg has set Sept. 22 as the date for its hearing on the Sony BMG merger.

The case, filed as "T-464/04 Impala/Commission," was brought by European independent-labels trade body Impala, which lodged an official complaint Dec. 3, 2004 against the European Commission's approval of the amalgamation of Sony and BMG's recording divisions.

The Luxembourg Court informed the parties involved at the end of February that it has chosen a so-called "expedited" procedure to rule on the case. That course of action means that instead of the usual 12-18 months wait before the court hears a case, the hearing would take place within three to six months.

Impala is challenging the EC competition department's July 19, 2004 decision to clear the merger without conditions. It claims the ruling contradicted European Union legislation and practices and that the EC overlooked the merger's potential impact on such issues as collective dominance and market access.

Brussels-based Impala wants the court to annul the decision.

Sony BMG has not offered any comment further than the statement it issued last December: "The European Commission reached its decision after an in-depth, six-month investigation and diligent review process, and we are confident that the court will reaffirm their decision to clear the merger."

A spokesperson for Impala could not be reached for comment.