A dawn raid is an unannounced investigation of premises, carried out by a competition authority to investigate and obtain evidence of infringements of UK or EU competition law.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is the UK's principal competition authority, and has powers to investigate anti-competitive practices affecting trade in the UK.
The European Commission is the EU wide competition authority, and has powers to investigate anti-competitive practices affecting trade between EU member states.
Certain sector regulators also have powers under the Competition Act 1998 concurrently with the CMA, such as Ofgem, Ofcom, ORR, the CAA, and the FCA.
Serious Fraud Office - where the CMA is considering a criminal prosecution, for example in the case of suspected cartel behaviour, the CMA will operate in conjunction with the Serious Fraud Office.
Competition authorities and sector regulators have the power to:
- enter business premises;
- enter domestic premises used for business, or where documents are stored;
- require businesses and individuals to deliver up documents;
- interview individuals, and require them to answer questions about documents; and
- examine and take copies of documents or information held on a computer.
They need not provide any advanced notice of their investigation, suspicions or arrival at such premises.
Would you be ready?
A dawn raid would immediately impact upon the running of your business from the moment investigators enter your reception area. If it is dealt with improperly it can lead to substantial fines for the business and, in some instances, criminal sanctions against individuals. A finding of anti-competitive behaviour following an investigation, can lead to significant fines and damages actions against the business, disqualification orders against directors, and in the case of cartel behaviour, criminal prosecutions for individuals, with penalties of up to five years imprisonment and unlimited fines. There will almost certainly be reputational repercussions for all involved. It is vital therefore that you are well prepared and your interests are protected throughout.
Our Dawn Raid team offers the following services across the Eastern region in the event of a dawn raid:
- out of hours contact and advice;
- urgent assistance and representation at your business premises; and
- preparation of appropriate internal procedures and policies to be implemented.
We can also assist by providing:
- training for relevant personnel, from the receptionist, through to directors and senior management; and
- representation in any subsequent investigation and/or prosecution.
In addition to the services of our Dawn Raid team, our Competition Law team can:
- review the contractual arrangements of a business for anti-competitive provisions;
- advise on what constitutes anti-competitive behaviour;
- advise on what steps to take if a business suspects that it is involved in anti-competitive behaviour, or is the subject of allegations of such behaviour.