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How you can prepare for EU antitrust dawn raids and what to expect from your lawyers

Dawn raids are a big challenge, and getting it wrong can mean huge fines. Having good policies and procedures is important. But in the midst of a raid, you need to understand the practical issues that really matter. Based on our recent experience, here are five crucial things you need to be aware of:

1. IT systems and IT personnel are crucial: be prepared

  • Your data has to be accessible irrespective of where it is stored: whether locally or in the cloud. Data size is not an excuse – your download speed must keep the inspectors happy
  • The Group Head of IT and on-site IT leads need to be on call throughout the raid, fully supervised and supported
  • Delays in providing data could lead to claims of obstruction and heavy fines – ensure your IT environment is prepared to cope with a raid promptly and efficiently

2. Keep control of the investigation

  • Maintain a clear, detailed log of all investigation steps: requests made by the authority, challenges raised, devices searched and interviews held
  • Capture intelligence in real time – the lawyers must keep pace with the inspectors
  • Plan logistics for the end of each day (e.g., security of sealed premises) and the end of the raid – help the inspectors be ready to leave and let business get back to normal

3. Understand the inspectors

  • The personalities of the inspectors can drive the entire experience; assess who is in charge and tailor your approach
  • Show cooperation and build a constructive working relationship with the inspectors
  • But pick your battles carefully – good lawyers know when to stand their ground and protect your rights

4. Manage your team

  • Identify key internal stakeholders, and keep them in the loop and on message: Head of Business, Head of Legal, Head of HR, Head of Communications, Head of Facilities
  • Manage and supervise all of your employees’ interactions with the inspectors. Keep everyone calm and cooperative
  • Minimise business disruption: work with the inspectors to prioritise searches and get key business personnel working again

5. Think big picture and next steps

  • Evaluate the evidence in real time and understand the exposure
  • Plan investigative steps ASAP: further document review and interviews
  • Strategic next steps: are you considering leniency, or standing your ground? How much more information is needed to make that decision? Time is of the essence – you may be in a race

Mara Ghiorghies is an associate partner in Baker Mckenzie's London. Her practice focuses on advising, investigating and building defence strategies in antitrust and other regulatory cases and securing commercial outcomes by applying EU and UK competition and trade law.


James Robinson is a partner in the London office’s Competition, Trade & Foreign Investment department, and has extensive experience in UK and EU competition law. He is a member of the Baker McKenzie Global Antitrust & Competition Practice Group, and is Global Co-Chair of the Firm’s Cartels Practice, which is ranked #1 in the world by GCR Magazine.
James has been named a Future Leader in Competition Law by Who's Who Legal and GCR.