At A Glance
2023 saw 33% of dawn raids challenged following our success representing Intermarché.
100% of recently challenged dawn raids are ex officio investigations, like the Intermarché dawn raids.
The European Commission conducts “dawn raids” of businesses it suspects have broken competition rules. It can carry out these inspections without a judicial warrant and can decide to open them ex officio (i.e., absent any complaint or leniency application).
These surprise inspections—which can last days—interfere with the privacy rights of companies and their staff and carry high risks, as companies must cooperate.
The Suspicions HereThe European Commission conducted the dawn raids because it suspected that supermarket chains had shared with each other information about (1) discounts negotiated with suppliers and (2) sales strategies.
What Went Wrong Here
The first dawn raid was organized based on informal interviews, which were summarized but not properly recorded.
So that dawn raid—and those that followed—were not based on substantiated evidence.
As a result, the inspection turned into a fishing expedition and unduly interfered with privacy and other fundamental rights.
How the Courts Made it Right
The General Court partially annulled the first dawn raid as suspicion (1) was not supported by any evidence on file.
On further appeal, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) annulled the dawn raids in full because suspicion (2) was only supported by internal summaries of interviews, not by interview minutes or recordings.
All information found in the raids was returned to the supermarkets, and the European Commission closed its investigation with no infringements found.
A Precedent on Questionable InspectionsIf a company has reason to doubt that the European Commission had sufficient grounds to conduct an ex officio inspection, the company can challenge the inspection decision. The company can request that the General Court of the EU reviews the evidence the European Commission collected pre-inspection.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DAWN RAIDS AND OUR APP
Learn more about dawn raids and how Mayer Brown can help, including information on our Dawn Raid app that guides you through the crucial first steps if you are the target of a dawn raid.