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The regulation of business is growing internationally with the aim of ensuring the protection of consumers’ interests and a level playing field for businesses. However, the enforcement of regulation also brings challenges for businesses. Inspections or “dawn raids” are important enforcement tools at the disposal of regulators, but can cause significant disruption to businesses. Understanding the purpose of unannounced inspections, how they are conducted and the extent of your rights and obligations during an inspection will help you better manage inspections and ensure your interests are protected.

What is a dawn raid?

A dawn raid is a surprise inspection at your premises by a regulator. The objective is to secure evidence of a suspected breach of law. The regulator usually has the following powers:

  • Power to enter the premises, by force if necessary
  • Power to search the premises
  • Power to seize hard copy documents and data
  • Power to ask questions

Regulatory enforcement, including through the use of dawn raids, is on the rise in Ireland, reflecting an international trend and a wide range of regulators now have dawn raid powers, including:

  • An Garda Síochána
  • the Central Bank of Ireland
  • the Commission for Aviation Regulation
  • the Commission for Communications Regulation
  • the Commission for Regulation of Utilities
  • the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission
  • the Data Protection Commission
  • the Environmental Protection Agency
  • the European Commission
  • the Health and Safety Authority
  • the Health Information and Quality Authority
  • the Health Products Regulatory Authority
  • the National Standards Authority of Ireland
  • the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement
  • the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the Pharmacy Regulator
  • the Revenue Commissioners

The Dawn Raid Response Unit

Unannounced inspections can be a stressful experience and can cause significant business disruption. They are usually the first step in an investigation which, where there is a negative outcome, can potentially result in a finding of a breach of law and the imposition of sanctions. In this context, businesses are placing increasing importance on being prepared for the possibility of such inspections.

The Dawn Raid Response Unit has been established by Arthur Cox as a first-to-market offering in Ireland that provides a one-stop-shop crisis management solution for clients that are subject to dawn raids across all regulators.

It consists of a team of lawyers drawn from all of the relevant practice areas across the firm who are trained in how to handle dawn raids by all regulators. No matter which regulator turns up at your premises, we have the team with the relevant expertise and experience to handle the inspection.

Service offering

We can support you in the following ways:

Response team

In the event of a dawn raid we will have a response team dispatched to your premises quickly to manage the dawn raid, provide legal advice and guidance, engage with the inspection team on all issues that arise and ensure your rights are protected.

Guidance materials

We can prepare clear and practical guidance materials and a standard operating procedure for your staff so that they understand what is involved and what they should do during a dawn raid.


We can provide training for staff on how to handle a dawn raid.

Simulation dawn raids

We can carry out a simulation dawn raid at your premises to prepare for an inspection. This is a useful learning experience.

Data management and information governance

We can advise on information governance and data management aspects so that you are well prepared in advance for handling requests for access to data.

Public relations

Together with PR consultants, we can advise on your PR strategy in case details of the dawn raid and investigation become public.

Our experience

We have market-leading experience in advising clients involved in investigations by regulators, including advising on dawn raids. Specific recent examples of our work include:

  • Advising a client on an investigation by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) into bagged cement, including advising on a dawn raid at its premises
  • Advising a client on a successful challenge before the High Court and the Supreme Court to the scope of documents seized by the CCPC during a dawn raid, which resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision in June 2017 on the scope of dawn raid powers
  • Advising a client on a European Commission investigation into motor insurance in Ireland, including advising on a dawn raid at its premises
  • Advising another client on a separate European Commission investigation into motor insurance in Ireland, including advising on a dawn raid at its premises
  • Advising a client on a separate CCPC investigation into motor insurance
  • Advising a client on a CCPC investigation into event ticketing in Ireland
  • Advising a client on a dawn raid at its premises by the Revenue Commissioners

Arthur Cox Dawn Raid Website

The Arthur Cox Dawn Raid Website is a crisis management tool designed to assist you during a dawn raid. The website provides practical advice and step-by-step guides to be followed during a dawn raid. To access the website, contact the team here.

Contact us

To learn more about the Dawn Raid Response Unit, you can email the team here.