Last week, the European Commission published on its website a revised explanatory note on how it conducts on-the-spot inspections of business premises where it suspects a company has breached competition law (so-called “dawn raids”).
During a dawn raid the European Commission has the power to examine and copy not just hard copies of business records, but also electronic information. The most important revisions to the note concern the powers of the inspectors to conduct IT searches.
Extent of IT search
The revised note provides the following non-exhaustive examples of the IT storage media that the inspectors may search during an inspection: laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, CD-ROMs, [...]
The EU’s General Court issued on 14 November two important judgments regarding the extent of the European Commission’s powers to dawn raid companies for suspected competition law infringements (Case T-135/09 Nexans v Commission and Case T-140/09 Prysmian v Commission).
The Court held that the European Commission must precisely delimit the products concerned by a dawn raid in the decision ordering the inspection, and went on to annul the Commission‘s inspection decisions in both cases on the grounds that it considered that the Commission did not have reasonable grounds to launch inspections in relation to the broad category of products set out in the decisions, but only in relation to a sub [...]
At the end of last week, the European Competition Network (“ECN”) published a report on the competition law enforcement and market monitoring activities by the European competition authorities in the food sector.
The report is an important reminder of the fact that at both the European and national level the EU food sector has been and will continue to be under close scrutiny from the antitrust perspective and more broadly.
What is the report?
The European Commission has been under considerable pressure to respond to concerns regarding the rising cost of food in the EU. In 2011, the European Parliament requested closer cooperation between the Commission and the national competition authori [...]
At the end of March, the European Commission fined Czech energy companies Energetický a průmyslový and EP Investment Advisors EUR2.5 million for obstructing a dawn raid which European Commission officials carried out as part of an antitrust investigation.
This is the first time that the European Commission has fined a company for the specific violation of obstructing IT searches during a dawn raid.
The European Commission raided the companies’ premises in Prague in November 2009. On arrival, the inspectors asked that the email account of certain key individuals be blocked until further notice. This is the European Commission’s standard dawn raid procedure, and is aimed to [...]
On 2 February 2012, the EU’s General Court issued two important judgments concerning the issue of whether joint venture parents can be held liable for the cartel behaviour of their 50-50 joint venture. In T-77/08 (Dow Chemical v Commission) and T-76/08 (El du Pont de Nemours and Others v Commission), the General Court held that Dow Chemical and El DuPont could be held jointly and severally liable for the conduct of their jointly owned subsidiary, DDE, in which each parent had a 50% shareholding. This was despite the fact that each parent did not individually have the power to impose decisions on DDE, but could only prevent DDE from taking certain decisions, and that DDE was a “full function” [...]