Irish competition watchdog to go to High Court as part of cement industry investigation

Irish competition watchdog to go to High Court as part of cement industry investigation
Published: 19 June 2015

Tagged Under: Pricing Ireland 

Ireland’s Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) will go to the High Court next month as part of its probe into alleged anti-competitive practices in the cement industry, according to a report in the Irish Times.

The State’s competition watchdog last month seized thousands of documents when it raided the offices of CRH subsidiary Irish Cement. It also visited the offices of several other companies.

The daily newspaper reported that the CCPC will ask the court next month to rule on which of the documents seized it is allowed use to build its case, as some of the material could constitute privileged information, such as legal advice.

The CCPC has launched an investigation into whether Irish Cement has abused its dominant position in the market, which the company denies.

The commission last night confirmed it was seeking High Court approval to filter the material it seized from the CRH subsidiary. “When it conducts such searches the commission is entitled to compel the target business to disclose information to it even if the target claims that the information in question contains legally privileged material,” said the CCPC.

The commission said it had “made an application to the High Court seeking a determination as to whether certain information seized from Irish Cement during the search operation on May 14th constitutes legally privileged material”.

The CCPC is obliged to keep the information confidential until it gets such a determination. I

Irish Cement has previously stated that it fully facilitated the raid on its premises last month, and is co-operating fully with the CCPC investigation.

The commission has stressed that the investigation could take some time to complete before any further legal action, if any, is taken. It further stressed that next month's planned court hearing is simply to help it filter out Irish Cement’s legal advice, and does not mean it has decided to prosecute a branch of Ireland’s biggest company.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the commission has not instituted High Court proceedings against Irish Cement for any breach of competition law,” it said.