Delta Pekárny, part of the United Bakeries group in the Czech Republic, Scores Important Victory before the ECHR03/10/14 / News
The European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) rules Czech Competition Authority’s dawn raid unlawful. The significance of the ruling stretches beyond Czech borders as it can be applied in other Member States as well.
The dawn raid took place in DELTA PEKÁRNY a. s.’s premises in 2003. The company challenged it before Czech courts and, after having exhausted all available remedies, filed the case with the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg in 2010. The EHCR held that the dawn raid grossly violated the claimant’s rights granted by the European Convention on Human Rights and ruled in favour of the claimant.
The ECHR’s ruling contests the legality of all dawn raids carried out (or to be carried out) by the Czech Competition Authority in the offices and other premises of commercial corporations without prior consent from an independent court. Since the Czech Competition Authority has not obtained a court warrant for a single dawn raid so far, any company involved in a dawn raid may challenge its legitimacy as well as the evidence collected during the dawn raid.
“We are naturally very happy that the ECHR agreed with our reasoning, which we worked on extensively for quite a long time. The ruling is crucial not only for our client but also for other companies since they can now claim that evidence collected during unlawful dawn raids cannot be used in the proceedings” says Pavel Dejl, a partner at Kocián Šolc Balaštík, who was DELTA PEKÁRNY, a.s.’s legal counsel in the proceedings.
The ECHR’s ruling is binding on the Czech Republic and Czech authorities should follow it in similar cases. The ruling is also significant for other EU countries whose legal systems do not explicitly impose a duty on competition authorities to obtain prior court consent before they conduct a dawn raid since it automatically applies to all Member States.