The purpose of Competition Law is to ensure fairness and freedom in the provision of goods and services. The Competition Authority has responsibility for enforcing Irish and European Union Competition Law. In this role the Competition Authority has very significant powers of investigation. One of these powers is the power to enter and search premises, (known as Dawn raids).
The key provisions of Irish competition law are that most anti-competitive arrangements between businesses and economic operators (known as “undertakings”) are prohibited and any abuse of a dominant position by undertakings are prohibited. The law also regulates certain mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures.
Irish competition law is embodied in the Competition Act 2002 and the Competition (Amendment) Act 2006.
Businesses and individuals convicted of cartel offences face a number of penalties, including fines and imprisonment.
An undertaking convicted on indictment of participating in a cartel can be fined up to €4m or 10% of turnover, whichever is greater. Similar fines may also be imposed on individual managers or directors of such an undertaking together with a maximum of five years imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for a summary prosecution is a fine of €3,000 and up to six months imprisonment.
The sanction of imprisonment applies only to what are known as “hardcore cartels”.
If you are the subject of a “Dawn raid” you need to take immediate legal advice.
Have a look at our Legal Articles page to see some of our articles on these topics.
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