In April 2010 the Commission and the French competition authority conducted a dawn raid at a number of French companies active in water and sanitation on suspicion of a breach of Article 101 and/or 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Following the dawn raids, Suez Environnement and Lyonnaise des Eaux have now brought an action before the General Court seeking an annulment of the Commission decision requiring them to submit to an inspection and also seeking an annulment of the inspection mandate and any action undertaken which originates from inspections carried out on the basis of this decision. The appellants have also requested that the General Court make an order for the return of all the documents seized during the inspection.
The appellants are alleging that there has been an infringement of their fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular, the right to respect for their home. They are also alleging that there has been an infringement of the principle of proportionality given that the validity of the inspection decision was unlimited in duration and very broad in scope. Finally, the appellants allege that the inspection mandate accompanying the decision did not provide sufficient guarantees of impartiality and objectivity in that it designated Commission officials to the inspection that had previously examined confidential information that Lyonnaise des Eaux had sent to the Commission in the context of a notification of a concentration.