This article by White & Case covers dawn raids. The article states that as we go into autumn, European competition authorities are likely to resume dawn raids of companies suspected of competition law infringements. This is as a result of a backlog of planned inspections that has built up since the start of the pandemic.
Dawn raids are a weapon within the regulator's armoury that seem to wield with varying degrees of frequency. Regardless though, they must be very daunting for companies to experience, especially if they are not prepared or experienced in dealing with these situations. Companies will need to ensure that their dawn raid procedures are updated. In particular they will need to ensure they have been adapted to address the changes in dawn raid practice following the pandemic and the new reality of employees remote working.
Responding to dawn raids will always involve a technology element as the regulators will be keen to get their hands on relevant data sets and will often be focused on communication data as well as official business records. And this is where we come in.
We always stress that companies need to be prepared, not only to monitor the data the regulators are capturing and/or searching, but also to perform the tasks themselves, with appropriate legal guidance, to ensure that they are able to analyse the data and get a view on how the regulators may respond and/or react. If you want to understand more about this, then drop me a line.
Dawn raids are unannounced inspections to investigate suspected infringements of competition law. Dawn raids are possible at both business and domestic premises (with an appropriate court warrant). The authorities generally conduct dawn raids with a large number of inspectors from the European Commission and/or national competition authority, often at several company locations at the same time. With the exception of legally privileged documents, the inspectors are empowered to review all documents on (and accessible from) the company premises that fall within the scope of the investigation. This review can cover confidential paper files, personal notebooks or diaries of company personnel, as well as physical and electronic logs (including mobile phones, or encrypted electronic data on a drive or data stored on a cloud, such as WhatsApp chats).