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Competition Law

Analysis - debate - current awareness

30 JAN 2015

Knock knock...

John Cassels


Knock knock...
In the unfortunate event that competition officials come knocking, the questions racing on your mind will likely be endless. Here's a taster from our Dawn Raid Q&A Guide, to help calm you down:

1.     Who can I tell?

Tell your staff about the raid, but not anyone outside your company (except the lawyers, of course) because this could lead to a tip-off and may prejudice the investigation. Carry on working, unless inspectors say otherwise. Your staff should be cooperative, but not speak to inspectors unless a company lawyer is present.

2.     Will they wait for my lawyer?

Although under no obligation to do so, inspectors will normally wait about 30 minutes before they kick-off the search. They will ask you to stop shredding / disposing of documents and not to delete emails. You should ask for advice from your lawyers over the phone if they are still en route when the investigation begins.

3.     Do I have to produce that document?

Yes, both paper and electronic documents can be taken by inspectors (e.g. emails, phone records, expense records, notes etc.). You are under a continuous duty to cooperate (and can be fined if you don’t), which means you should look for documents requested and not just grant general access. You should, however, withhold legally privileged documents (i.e. correspondence with external lawyers in the EEA) and, if it is a UK investigation, you should also withhold any documents which arose for the purpose of litigation pending or being contemplated.

4.     Do I have to answer that question?

Generally, yes. In the UK, inspectors can ask for on-the-spot explanations of documents. In the EU, the scope is wider. They can ask for factual details relating to the subject of the investigation (e.g. dates of meetings, names of individuals) and you must respond unless this may involve an admission of infringement.

5.     Will the raid be made public?

Possibly, via the authority's website. You should consider preparing a press statement, just in case.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues please do not hesitate to contact John Cassels at john.cassels@fieldfisher.com.
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