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Dawn Raids by Croatian Competition Agency

April 2015

Relying on 2013 legislative amendments that streamlined relevant statutory setup and utilizing the boost in technical (forensic) capabilities, the Croatian Competition Agency (“Agency”) has recently launched a number of unannounced inspections (dawn raids) in different industries.

The raids are carried based on the decision of the High Administrative Court granting wide powers to the officials of the Agency. The decision will contain a start and end date of investigation in the range of four or more days. Agency officials will likely come at the opening hours and the team will consist of five or more officials accompanied by police officers. The officials will: i) present the court decision, ii) present their identification cards; iii) immediately ask that no personnel leave the premises; iv) request termination of all communication. A call to the outside counsel will be allowed, but it cannot be expected that the search will be suspended until the arrival of outside counsel. The officials will ask to examine books and records of the company and will make copies or extracts from such books and records. IT environment and media that can be subject of search include laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, CD-roms, DVDs, USB keys etc. Inspections officials will make copies using their forensic IT tools. Some of the materials will be briefly inspected on the site while certain documents and other data will be taken from the premises.

Since the Agency’s proceedings are in early stages, it still remains to be seen to which extent will the competent High Administrative Court exercise control over the Agency’s actions and almost discretionary powers and accept the (likely) arguments on inadmissibility of certain evidence. The Agency’s activity also places additional emphasis on importance of well-organized and maintained competition compliance programs that would be fully tailored to local legal and practical specifics.