Search warrants have been a longstanding tool in the Competition
Bureau's arsenal, and domestic and international "dawn
raids" are standard in almost all significant cartel
Don't let a dawn raid catch you unprepared. Here are the top
10 dos and don'ts for managing a search and seizure.
Remain calm and cooperative when the
competition officers arrive.
Record the officers' time of arrival and ask for
identification. Escort the officers to a meeting room and
assign an employee to accompany them.
Contact external counsel. Ask officers to
delay the search until external counsel arrives. This request may
be granted or denied.
Ask the officers to provide you with the warrant
authorizing the search. Immediately provide copies of the
warrant to external counsel and appropriate employees.
Carefully review the warrant to determine its
scope and in particular the premises, documents and objects that
are the subject of the warrant.
Communicate effectively. Immediately circulate
to all employees an internal communication advising of the search
and a document hold direction, and prepare a stand-by statement for
external stakeholders (e.g., media, stock exchanges,
Establish a group of employees to serve as your
response team to assist during the search and seizure.
Assign a member of the response team to accompany each of the
officers as they conduct the search. Instruct the response team
Ensure that the officers limit their search to areas and
material authorized by the warrant and object to the seizure of any
privileged material or material outside the scope of the search
Immediately notify counsel if there are any disputes or
allegations of obstruction, or if the officers wish to:
seize original documents;
copy whole mailboxes or hard drives for review at a later
review legally privileged information;
seal off an area, office or filing cabinet; or
question company employees (other than to ask administrative
questions about the location of documents, passwords for computers
or technology issues).
Establish a protocol with the officers for dealing with
privileged documents and disputed documents prior to
commencing the search.
Make copies of every document seized by the
officers, including electronic documents.
Upon completion of the search, ensure the company
provides the officers with a letter claiming confidentiality over
all documents seized and reserving the right to challenge
the officers' authority to have seized documents on the grounds
of either legal privilege or the scope of the warrant.
Obstruct the search without good reason.
Charges of obstruction may result in fines and/or
Permit officers to go beyond the scope of the
warrant. If there is a dispute about whether an area is
specified in the warrant or whether a document is privileged,
immediately escalate the matter to external counsel.
Volunteer any information about the business
or subjects relevant to the investigation.
Destroy, hide or alter in any way any
documents of the company.
Make telephone calls or engage in discussions with
legal counsel in front of the officers, except where this
Call competitors and warn them about the
searches. Your competitors are potentially being searched
at the same time and may be racing against your company to
cooperate with the government pursuant to the Competition
Bureau's Leniency Program.
Discuss, comment or speculate on the search with any
third party. This includes customers, suppliers, trade
associations, friends and family, and the media.
Sign any documents that the officers produce
without first checking with counsel.
Break any seals put in by place by the
officers. This carries severe penalties.
Delay in considering whether a leniency
application should be made.
Bottom Line: A search and seizure is a
fast-paced and high-stakes situation. Be prepared for the
unexpected by putting in place an effective strategy for managing
the process and ensuring your company's legal rights are
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.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Commissioner of Competition addressed innovation, enforcement and policy initiatives at the Competition Bureau in his keynote speech, "Strengthening Competition: Innovation, Collaboration and Transparency."
Used car listing website operator CarGurus Inc.'s attempt to force rival Trader Corporation to supply it with vehicle listing data has encountered a dead end as the Competition Tribunal denied it leave to commence a private application under several provisions of the Competition Act.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).