Czech Republic: ECHR ruled that dawn raids need to be ordered by a court



On 2 October 2014, the European Court for Human Rights ruled that a dawn raid conducted by the Czech competition authority back in 2003 at the premises of a company in relation to the investigation of suspected cartel was illegal, because it was not based on an order from the court (that Czech law does not require in such cases). Carrying out the dawn raid without a court order amounted to a breach of privacy of the company subject to investigation, ECHR said. 

The ruling, which passed by a narrow vote of four to three judges, sirred up controversy in the Czech Republic. Unlike as in the case of the living premises of the individuals, Czech law generally does not recognise that business premises are protected by the privilege of privacy, which would require a court order for the authorities to be able to enter such premises.

There are also potential implications as to other types of administrative on-site investigations that are carried out at business premises (e.g. by the tax authorities) that might be affected by the ruling as well.

The ruling is not final yet, but is subject to appeal.