In March 2019, the UK Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") issued its first fine on a company for concealing relevant evidence during a dawn raid, fining Fender Musical Instruments Europe Limited £25,000. This is the latest example of the trend among competition authorities to hold companies accountable for dawn raid procedural violations, as described in our October 2018 Alert about the European Commission's fining ZSSK, Slovakia's state-owned railway, for obstructing a dawn raid.
The CMA conducted a dawn raid on Fender's premises in April 2018 as part of its investigation of possible breach of competition law. During the dawn raid, the CMA asked Fender to provide all hard copy documents, including notebooks. A senior Fender employee provided recent notebooks, but explained that earlier notebooks did not contain relevant entries and had been discarded.
Three weeks later, Fender's lawyers informed the CMA that the employee in question still had ten earlier notebooks. They explained that these documents had not been disclosed at the time because the employee did not consider them to be relevant to the CMA's investigation. Fender provided the notebooks to the CMA, which determined that they contained relevant material.
Almost four months after the inspection, in a submission to the CMA, Fender, which believed the notebooks had been destroyed, explained that its employee removed the...