The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK) has significantly increased the number of dawn raids on businesses. Between 2013 and 2016 the Office carried out on average less than three dawn raids per year, while in 2017 and 2018, 18 dawn raids took place.
According to the President of UOKiK, the immediate reason for the increase was the launch in 2017 of a whistle-blowing programme which allows information on collusion to be provided anonymously. Any person with knowledge of a prohibited agreement (e.g. an employee of a company involved in collusion) may be a whistleblower. In the UOKiK’s view, the programme has proved very successful and on numerous occasions has enabled it to institute proceedings and conduct dawn raids. In 2018 the Office received 1562 tip-offs (538 telephone calls and 1024 e-mails).
A dawn raid always entails risk, irrespective of whether collusion is confirmed. If an inspection is prevented or hindered, the Office may impose a fine of up to EUR 50 million. Both the UOKiK and other EU competition protection authorities have a strict approach to procedural breaches during dawn raids. If the Office finds evidence confirming collusion, it may impose a fine of up to 10% of the business’s annual turnover. Fines can also be imposed on managers for allowing the conclusion of an illegal agreement – in such case the fine may be up to PLN 2 million (approximately EUR 500,000).