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Dawn raids

An unannounced inspection by a competition or criminal investigatory authority, known as a dawn raid, is a major disruption to any business. It may also signal the start of protracted proceedings, potentially leading to fines, damages actions and, in some jurisdictions, criminal prosecutions and imprisonment for individuals and the disqualification of directors. Such actions expose businesses to the risk of significant financial and reputational damage, governmental prosecutions and subsequent private claims that can threaten the existence of the company and the liberty of its employees.

Should your business be the subject of a dawn raid, you will need to take immediate steps under extreme pressure to ensure that your interests are protected. You must make sure that you understand the full extent of the relevant authority’s powers and procedures and will need to make rapid strategic judgments about applying for leniency. In the US, where dawn raids conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation are rarer, you will also need to understand how to deal with subpoenas issued by a grand jury, which impose equally significant risks.

Eversheds Sutherland’s experienced lawyers can help your business navigate these complex situations and provide vital support when you need it most.

How we can help in the event of a dawn raid

Our competition, EU and trade group will provide help and support if your business experiences a dawn raid. Our deep understanding of the powers and procedures of the relevant authorities and our extensive experience of managing such situations across the globe allow us to advise clients on the practical and strategic issues that are key to steering such a case to successful closure. Our lawyers can handle tense and difficult situations confidently, without damaging regulatory relationships.

The dawn raid services we offer include:

  • providing global on-the-ground dawn raid cover for your company, including for multinational, multi-site companies, to ensure that you are prepared for any investigation, wherever it might occur
  • drafting and implementing appropriate plans and procedures, and ensuring that contact arrangements take into account relevant practical details to allow for swift attendance and effective response on site
  • training your employees to ensure they react in the proper way during a dawn raid
  • testing your procedures by running mock dawn raids

Experienced dawn raid lawyers

Eversheds Sutherland regularly defends multinational clients in the context of unannounced inspections from international and national competition authorities. Our deep resources and global presence also allow us to assist businesses subject to multi-site and/or multi-jurisdictional raids.

We collaborate across our offices globally, manage simultaneous raids across multiple jurisdictions and share our dawn raid experiences in different territories. This gives our lawyers a rounded and broad-based understanding of how to deal with such situations, wherever you do business. We also coordinate immunity and leniency filings across multiple jurisdictions.

Our experience is extensive, and includes tackling difficult issues that can arise during the raid itself, such as:

  • preventing unlawful access to documents by officials
  • dealing with threats of proceedings for obstruction
  • objecting to improper conduct on the part of the authorities (we represented Akcros Chemicals in the context of the European Commission dawn raid, in which the EU’s General Court later described the European Commission officials as having “committed various irregularities in the administrative procedure” and having “infringed the procedure for protection under LPP”
  • dealing with the application and removal of seals
  • resolving disputes in relation to issues such as legal privilege and questioning powers
  • providing undertakings in relation to the control of documents
  • dealing with multiple simultaneous raids by different competition authorities
  • advising on questions that can arise relating to access to electronic data, including how to ensure that requests are reasonable and proportionate and that they are complied with appropriately

Contact our dawn raid team

If you would like any further information or need advice on dawn raid matters, please contact our legal advisors.

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