Romania: new perspective on dawn raids and leniency following criminal legislation amendments

By Cătălin Suliman

The entry into force in Romania on 1 February 2014 of the new criminal codes implementing laws — i.e. Law no. 187/2012 and Law no. 255/2013, respectively — brought important changes to certain non-criminal laws such as Competition Law no. 21/1996 republished, as further amended and supplemented. Two of these amendments concern the requirement of a court warrant for dawn raids and the immunity/reduction of prison sentences for those individuals who, under certain conditions, blow the whistle on Competition Law infringements.

Prior to the amendments brought by Law 255/2013, Romania’s Competition Council was able to conduct dawn raids at the premises of undertakings without a court warrant, but rather based only on an internal order issued by the president of the Competition Council. The judicial approval was (and still is) necessary for conducting inspections at the private premises (e.g. homes and vehicles) of the managers, directors and employees of the undertakings under investigation. As of 1 February 2014, along with the order from the president of the Competition Council, a court warrant is also necessary for conducting (unannounced) inspections at business premises.

This amendment to the Competition Law follows a broader European trend in dawn raids, with the competition legislation in several EU member states requiring judicial approval (e.g. Austria, Germany, France, Hungary, Latvia, Poland and Sweden), while in some other members states a court warrant is required in the event there is opposition to the inspection (e.g. Spain). At the level of the European Commission, a judicial warrant is also not required to conduct a dawn raid…

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