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Competition & EU law insights

Keeping you up to date on Competition & EU law developments in Europe and beyond.

| 3 minutes read

Introduction to Competition and Regulatory Investigations

Competition law enforcement is hot. Enforcing competition rules has become a significant area of focus for regulatory authorities across the world. Several companies across different sectors have been confronted with hefty fines for violating antitrust laws. 

In Europe, the European Commission (“EC”) has imposed fines on companies in the military (€1.2 million), pharmaceutical (€13.4 million), banking (€26.6 million) and digital industries (€1.8 billion), and has carried out unannounced inspections in several sectors including fragrancefashion, and online food delivery. In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) has issued two infringement decisions since April 2022, imposing £72m in fines, as well as two commitment decisions, and has conducted dawn raids in the fragrance and construction chemicals sectors (amongst others) over the last year. The Chinese competition authority, the State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”), has been active in investigating and imposing hefty fines on digital giants in the past, with a new focus on the abuse of administrative power, as well as targeting sectors controlled by the state owned entity and crucial to people's livelihood. Similarly, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) has also been targeting sectors crucial to peoples’ livelihood, conducting inquiries into supermarketschildcare and energy markets alongside its ongoing digital platform services inquiry. Competition authorities are taking active steps to ensure that markets remain competitive and fair. And in addition, there is growing enforcement of sector-specific (regulatory) competition rules, which may likewise involve on-site investigations and result in hefty fines.

In this special "Investigations" edition of our monthly newsletter, Competitive Edge, we delve into a range of ‘hot’ topics related to investigations by competition authorities worldwide. This compilation of articles, penned by legal experts from a number of our international offices, provides insightful perspectives from those lawyers who have first-hand experience dealing with competition authorities in multiple jurisdictions. 

We explore the increased focus of competition authorities on markets such as food, fashion, chemicals, and tyres, and provide insights on how to be prepared for unannounced inspections and RFIs. We also cover best practices for instructing forensics and legal teams and emphasise the importance of understanding digital markets and basic markets in competition investigations. Join us as we delve into the world of competition law enforcement and provide you with the knowledge and insights necessary to navigate this complex area. Our expertise and experience in handling investigations will provide you with the necessary tools to protect your interests and to achieve the best possible outcome. Most of these are also very relevant if you find your company under investigation by regulatory authorities enforcing sector-specific competition regulations.

The first article, written by our internal forensic team, offers guidance on how to prepare internally once a digital data search – by now the focal point of any investigation – has been initiated. We provide practical steps and technical insights to help clients navigate the forensic aspects of a digital investigation with ease.

Moving onto the legal side of things, our second article explores best practices for competition lawyers working with forensic teams to ensure the best outcome for clients. We provide key considerations that lawyers should be mindful of to protect their clients’ interests as well as ensure a cost-effective and result-driven process.

Our third article covers additional interfaces and considerations in relation to employment issues that may be encountered during investigations, including personal liability, uncooperative employees, terminations, and issues related to data protection. 

In our fourth article, we delve into the intriguing intersection of dawn raids and data protection, the powers of competition authorities when conducting dawn raids, and how businesses can best prepare for and respond to an investigation.

In the fifth article, we expand on our insights into dawn raid powers under new legislation, such as the DMA, DSA, and the AI Act. Additionally, our sixth article presents investigation trends from around the world, including China, Australia, EU, and UK. Our global insights and perspectives will provide readers with an understanding of the latest trends and developments in competition law/regulatory enforcement.

Our seventh article discusses how authorities are ‘outsourcing’ dawn raids, shifting the burden of carrying out cumbersome and expensive investigations of large datasets onto the companies involved. We also share interesting insights based on our experiences and lessons learnt in the eighth article.

Our penultimate dawn raid tips and tricks section provides practical guidance for counsel on how to prepare for dawn raids and their significance. Finally, our edition wraps up with key takeaways that will help readers navigate this complex area of competition law enforcement with ease.

Whether you are a legal practitioner, business owner, compliance officer or simply interested in the world of competition law/regulatory enforcement, the "Investigations" edition of Competitive Edge newsletter offers valuable insights and knowledge to help you navigate this complex area.

If you need further guidance in this area, please contact Pauline KuipersMorten Nissen,  Reshmi RampersadTenisha Cramer or Maria Karpathakis

This article is part of a special edition on Investigations of our monthly newsletter Competitive Edge.




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