Competition Authority Raids IFA Offices

Author:Mr Sean Ryan
Profession:Eversheds O'Donnell Sweeney

Originally published May 2011 According to reports, at 10am on Friday 13 May, up to 15 officials from the Irish Competition Authority, accompanied by a Garda Detective, conducted a 'dawn-raid' on the Irish Farmers Association offices in Dublin. The Competition Authority is empowered under the Competition Act 2002 to investigate alleged anti-competitive behaviour either as a result of a complaint or on an own-initiative basis. Pursuant to Section 45 of the Act, the Authority may enter "if necessary by force" the business premises and homes of directors, managers and/or members of staff to search and seize documentation relating to the alleged offences. It is believed that the Authority's investigation centres around possible price fixing allegations. During the 'dawn-raid', which lasted until 4pm, the Authority members are reported to have reviewed, examined and removed files, computers, laptops, personal mobile phones and personal diaries of IFA personnel. The consequences of breaching Irish competition laws are very severe, and include the possibility of prison sentences and/or substantial fines being imposed. As well as the Competition Authority, bodies such as the Financial Regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Revenue Commissioners, all have statutory powers to carry out 'dawn raids'. The surprise element of a raid will generally mean that there will be a degree of disruption. The extent of that disruption will depend on the procedures you have put in place to deal with any such investigation. In addition, consideration...

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