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On 8 November 2017, the Paris Court of Appeal decided that emails between in-house counsels relating to the defence strategy set up by the company’s outside counsels, although they neither originated from, nor were addressed to, an outside counsel, should be considered, during dawn raids, as protected by legal privilege and not be seized by the French Competition Authority.

Authors: Marc Lévy Natasha Tardif Lucile Chneiweiss

Following dawn raids in the sector of electronic consumer products (white and brown goods) in October 2013, the investigation services of the French Competition Authority (the FCA) obtained a warrant from the liberties and custody judge (the JLD) to carry out dawn raids in Whirlpool’s premises in May 2014.

On 8 November 2017, the president of the Paris Court of Appeal dismissed Whirlpool’s appeal against the warrant of the JLD allowing these dawn raids. However, he decided, in the context of the challenge of the conduct of the dawn raids, that the FCA should not have seized emails discussing the defence strategy of the company, even though these emails did not emanate from outside counsels but from in-house counsels.