Increasing activity of the competition authorities with Antitrust dawn raids in Austria
After a pandemic-related interruption, the Austrian and European competition authorities have resumed their investigative activities over the last year and are more active than ever to protect competition from distortions – especially in view of the disruptions of global supply chains that occurred in the wake of the pandemic. The sharpest tool used by the antitrust authorities is the unannounced search of company premises (“dawn raid”).
The Austrian Federal Competition Authority also uses this investigative measure extensively, as recently experienced by manufacturers and traders of pellets as well as companies in the waste management sector.
Whistleblowing as a reinforcing factor
Naturally, it is impossible to predict which industry will be the next to come under scrutiny of the antitrust authorities. However, in light of the enhanced protection of whistleblowers through the EU Whistleblowing Directive, antitrust authorities are certainly facing an increase in the number of suspicious activity reports. The Austrian Federal Competition Authority, for example, has had a digital whistleblowing system for anonymous reporting of suspicious cases for a long time. Consequently, the number of antitrust dawn raids can be expected to remain high.
The behavior of the company being raided is of decisive importance for the further course of subsequent penalty proceedings. This concerns the protection of defense rights, the possible use of leniency programs as well as questions of cooperation with the authorities (e.g., settlements). In addition to seeking immediate support of specialized antitrust lawyers in the event of a dawn raid, it is therefore advisable to take appropriate precautions within the company by training employees and setting rules of conduct in case of an emergency.
We support you
Our EY Law experts specializing in antitrust law will be happy to support you in implementing preventive measures and rules of conduct for the event of a dawn raid in your company. We will be happy to prepare an individual advisory offer for you. Our services portfolio includes in particular:
- Training Training of your employees on correct behavior during dawn raids;
- Behavior Guide Drafting and implementation of behavioral guidelines and an emergency plan for dawn raids, based on the organizational and spatial setting in your company;
- Mock Dawn Raid Conduct of a mock dawn raid: simulated dawn raid in your company to evaluate the success of the training and compliance with the behavioral guidelines and the emergency plan.
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