Statement from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

May 20, 2016

 

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“the CCPC”) has lodged an appeal against a High Court judgement delivered on 5 April 2016 prohibiting the CCPC from accessing or reviewing certain electronic documents seized by the CCPC during a search conducted in May 2015.

The High Court judgment resulted from a court action taken by CRH plc (“CRH”) against the CCPC following the seizure of hard copy and electronic documents by the CCPC during an unannounced search at the premises of CRH’s subsidiary, Irish Cement Limited (“Irish Cement”), on 14 May 2015.  The search related to an investigation by the CCPC into alleged anti-competitive conduct in the bagged cement sector.  The Orders made by the High Court following the judgment prevent the CCPC from accessing or reviewing material in the mailbox of one Irish Cement Director which was seized during the search unless and until an agreement is put in place between the CCPC and CRH which would allow for an independent third party to “sift” the seized documents to identify material relevant to the CCPC’s investigation.

Notwithstanding the High Court’s judgment, the CCPC’s investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices by Irish Cement in the supply of bagged cement continues.

Background to the judgment

The CCPC carried out an unannounced search at the premises of Irish Cement on 14 May 2015 as part of an ongoing investigation into alleged anti-competitive practices in the supply of bagged cement in the State.  The search was carried out on foot of a search warrant issued by the District Court.  During the search, the CCPC seized a number of electronic documents including the mailboxes of a number of current and former key employees and senior executives of Irish Cement.  CRH argued that certain emails in the mailbox of one such senior executive – namely, Mr Seamus Lynch, a Director of Irish Cement – were unrelated to the business of Irish Cement and were therefore not entitled to be seized.  Accordingly, in November 2015, CRH brought a High Court action against the CCPC seeking an injunction to prevent the CCPC from examining these emails.

 

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