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Ireland / High Court / [2016] IEHC162

CRH PLC v The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Deciding Body:
High Court
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
04/05/2016

Key facts of the case:

A ‘dawn raid’ was undertaken at the premises of Irish Cement Limited at Platin, County Louth, by authorised officers of the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), acting pursuant to a search warrant. In the course of that raid, the officers took a copy of the entirety of the e-mail box of Mr Lynch, a senior executive within the CRH group, of which Irish Cement is part. The Court was ultimately satisfied on the balance of probabilities that some of the emails seized were not caught by the terms of the search warrant. In particular, the inbox contained emails and attachments unconnected to the business of Irish Cement and related instead to other CRH group companies with which Mr Lynch was involved. The central issue which arose in this case was what was to be done about those e-mails and attachments that the CCPC had in its possession.

The CRH applied to the High Court for a declaration that the CCPC had acted outside the scope of the search warrant and ultra vires and contrary to section 37 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 and sought an injunction restraining the CCPC from accessing, reviewing or making any use whatsoever of the records seized which did not relate to an activity in connection with the business of supplying or distributing goods or providing a service at Irish Cement.

CRH also sought declarations that the CCPC had acted in breach of Article 8 of the ECHR, Articles 7 and 8 of the CFR, the plaintiff’s right to privacy under Article 40.3 of the Irish Constitution and the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2003.

Outcome of the case:

The Court did not accept that the collection of material not covered by the terms of the search warrant was a breach of the plaintiff’s right to privacy but considered that a breach would occur if the CCPC were to proceed to review the material.