On July 8, 2020, the Paris Court of Appeals (“Court of Appeals”) fully annulled a May 2014 search warrant and subsequent dawn raids carried out at Whirlpool France’s premises (“Whirlpool”). The Court of Appeals also ordered the FCA to return all of Whirlpool’s seized documents.
In October 2013, the FCA conducted dawn raids at the premises of Samsung and Fagor Brandt as part of an antitrust investigation in the sector of domestic appliances in France. Based on evidence seized during the Samsung and Fagor Brandt dawn raids, the FCA requested an authorization to carry out further dawn raids at Whirlpool France’s premises, which was granted by the competent judges. Consequently, the FCA conducted dawn raids at Whirlpool France’s premises on May 27 and 28, 2014.
Whirlpool challenged the search warrant authorizing the May 2014 dawn raids, arguing notably that the FCA breached Whirlpool’s right to an effective remedy by failing to provide the minutes and inventories of the Samsung and Fagor Brandt dawn raids.
While the Paris Court of Appeals rejected Whirlpool’s appeal and confirmed the validity of the search warrant in November 2017, the French Supreme Court annulled the Court of Appeals’ decision in June 2019 and remanded the case to the Court of Appeals. In May 2017, the French Supreme Court also annulled the dawn raids at Samsung’s premises and thus the evidence seized during these dawn raids, which included some of the documents that the search warrant authorizing the Whirlpool dawn raids had relied on.
On remand from the French Supreme Court, the Paris Court of Appeals issued on July 8, 2020 a new decision which annulled the dawn raids carried out at Whirlpool’s premises and ordered the FCA to return all of Whirlpool’s seized documents.
Failure to provide the minutes and inventories of the initial dawn raids
In line with the French Supreme Court’s June 2019 decision, the Court of Appeals held that the FCA was required to provide Whirlpool with the minutes and inventories of the 2013 Samsung and Fagor Brandt dawn raids as soon as Whirlpool became implicated in the proceedings. The Court of Appeals held that Whirlpool had become implicated in the proceedings when it was dawn raided in May 2014, which is in line with the French Supreme Court decision.
Since Whirlpool did not receive a copy of the minutes and inventories of the Samsung and Fagor Brandt dawn raids at that time, the Court concluded that the FCA’s failure to do so breached Whirlpool’s right to an effective remedy and thus required the annulment of the search warrant (and consequently, of the dawn raid).
Consequences of the annulment of the Samsung dawn raid
The Court of Appeals also held that the search warrant authorizing the dawn raids at Whirlpool should be annulled since it was partly based on documents seized during the Samsung dawn raids, which were annulled by the French Supreme Court in May 2017.
 Judgment of the Court of Appeals of July 8, 2020 – RG 19/16854.
 See also French Competition Newsletter of June 2019, available here: https://www.clearygottlieb.com/-/media/files/french-competition-reports/19073001- french-competition-newsletter–june-2019r2-pdf.pdf
 French Supreme Court, June 13, 2019, Decision No. 17-87.364, annulling the order of the presiding Judge of the Court of Appeals, November 8, 2017, No. 14/13378, which confirmed the order of May 21, 2014 of the Paris Liberty and Custody Judge and the order of May 22, 2014 of the Nanterre Liberty and Custody Judge.