On 2 November 2010, the Paris Court of Appeal (the
'Court') issued three orders objecting to the seizure of
the whole content of email boxes by the French Competition
Authority (the 'Authority').
These orders question this method and whether it complies with
the legal requirement to guarantee the authenticity and the
integrity of the emails seized. The Court has thus ordered an
expert to technically evaluate the possibility of only seizing
selective content from the email boxes without compromising the
authenticity of the emails. The expert will issue its report in six
The First President of the Court has been consulted about this
matter several times, but this is the first time that the seizure
of a whole email box has been questioned. It seems that the First
President has been surprised that emails containing legally
privileged material have been seized by the Authority.
Indeed, if the Authority is to ensure that the seizure of whole
email boxes is in compliance with its obligations, the guarantees
ensuring the protection of legally privileged material and the
respect for privacy must not be violated.
These guarantees could be protected, for example, in two ways.
First, if the Authority proceeds to carry out a selective seizure
exercise inside the premises of the company while its
representatives are present. Second, if the Authority adopts the
European Commission's practice of sealing the seizure as a
whole in the premises, and then afterwards inviting the companies
to be present and participate in the selection of documents.
To view Community Week, Issue 496 – 5 November 2010 in
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