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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

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 Baker McKenzie Global Antitrust & Competition Practice Group, and is head of the cartel task force in London. In 2017, James was named a Future Leader in Competition Law by Who's Who Legal and GCR.