Recently, several fashion houses were raided by European Union antitrust regulators based on concerns that these companies may have violated laws against cartels and restrictive business practices. Relatedly, in the United States, the current administration has been very aggressive in its enforcement of antitrust laws with a new "Won't Back Down" approach towards litigation and increased investigative activity. The current landscape should serve as a reminder why it's important to, first and foremost, ensure compliance with the antitrust laws around the world, but also to be prepared should the government come knocking.
What can I do to Prepare?
- Designate and train a response team to run point;
- Designate outside counsel;
- Employees should be advised that:
- They must not destroy, conceal, or falsify any documents;
- They have a right to have counsel present for any substantive questioning by authorities; and
- They must immediately notify in-house counsel if they are contacted by a government authority, and they should direct any such requests to company counsel.
- Draft an email alert to notify all personnel of a raid.
What Should I do During?
- Ask for identification and documentation. Inspect documents for accuracy and make a copy (if allowed) or take notes. In the U.S., do not consent to the inspection and, if applicable, state objections to the on-site agents;
- Contact outside counsel;
- Alert company employees;
- Monitor the authorities' search and keep an inventory of the documents searched and/or seized, the questions asked by the authorities, and the individuals who were interviewed and/or requested to interview;
- Ask authorities to direct requests/questions to counsel;
- Do not destroy, conceal, or falsify any documents; and
- Do not discuss the substance of the investigation internally.
What Should I do After?
- Debrief outside counsel;
- Consider document preservation obligations/measures;
- Begin an internal investigation; and
- Consider a possible leniency application.
We have significant experience in acting for clients in this space and we can assist with any queries faced by your business.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.