Seizure of CRH document comes before High Court

Search of facility carried out by officers of Consumer Protection Commission

The search of ICL, a sbusidiary of CRH, was carried out under a search warrant granted by the District Court and was conducted as part of an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practises in the bagged cement sector in the State.

The search of ICL, a sbusidiary of CRH, was carried out under a search warrant granted by the District Court and was conducted as part of an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practises in the bagged cement sector in the State.

 

A dispute over the seizure of documents, including emails of a senior executive with cement giant CRH, during a search of a cement plant by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has come before the High Court.

The case arises from an unannounced search by authorised officers of the commission at Irish Cement Ltd’s (ICL) plant at Platin, Drogheda, Co Meath, on May 14th last.

ICL, a subsidiary of CRH plc, is involved in production and supply of cement products.

The search, carried out under a search warrant granted by the District Court, was conducted as part of an investigation into alleged anti-competitive practises in the bagged cement sector in the State.

It is claimed the officers seized electronic files within a crh.com email account of Seamus Lynch, managing director Ireland and Spain at CRH Europe.

ICL, CRH and Mr Lynch have claimed, in proceedings against the Commission, a significant portion of the e-mails are unrelated to the business and activity of ICL.

They also claim the commission seized documents unrelated to any activity in connection with the business of supplying or distributing goods, or providing a service. The documents in question fall outside of the scope of the search warrant, it is claimed.

The claims are denied.

When the matter came before Mr Justice Max Barrett on Tuesday, he agreed to admit it to the High Court’s Competition List. The case, expected to last four days, was adjourned to March 2016.

Both sides were consenting to the matter being admitted to the list, the court heard.

In their action, the plaintiffs want the court to make several declarations, including the commission acted outside of its powers and outside the scope of the search warrant when it seized material unrelated to business at the premises at Platin.

The plaintiffs, represented by Paul Sreenan SC and Imogen McGrath BL, also seek declarations the Commission breached provisions of the Data Protection Acts, the Constitution, European Convention on Human Rights and Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The plaintiffs are also claiming damages over the alleged breaches.

The plaintiffs had also sought an injunction, to apply pending a full hearing of the case, preventing the Commission using, accessing or reviewing the electronic material relating to Mr Lynch.

The injunction application did not proceed because Paul Gallagher SC, for the Commission, told Mr Justice Barrett his client was prepared to give an undertaking not to use the material pending the outcome of the case.

There was no point spending two days arguing about an injunction when the full hearing will take place in March, Mr Gallagher said.