Is your law firm adequately equipped to assist your clients when they are served with a Section 155 notice by the ACCC?
Youâ€™ve probably noticed that an increasing number of companies are being served section 155 notices by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
Failing to comply with a section 155 notice, or knowingly providing information that is false or misleading in response to a section 155 notice, is a criminal offence. Individuals committing such an offence face fines of up to $3,600 or upÂ to 12 monthsâ€™ imprisonment.
What is the normal client response to receiving a section 155 notice?
Well, in our experience (and we assume you see the same thing), the first response is panic, which is understandable because itâ€™s always stressful when a regulator comes knocking.
Initially, most clients scurry around looking desperately for documents.
Gradually, the panic subsides and they begin to think more rationally. They then call their trusted legal advisor for advice on the best way to respond to the notice.
The trusted legal advisor provides advice on the legal issues, such as the scope of the notice and whether the client should seek clarification or variations. In addition, you can tell them whether there is a sufficient link between the alleged contravention set out in the notice and the documents sought. Finally, the legal team are the best people to decide whether documents are relevant to the notice.
But are you and your legal team equipped to advise on how to locate and collate the necessary documents, especially electronic ones?
First, lawyers loathe doing this kind of work, which is tedious and painstaking. After all, it wasnâ€™t what they were trained to do.
Second, most lawyers donâ€™t have a sufficient understanding of the technology involved or of the tools that can be employed to locate electronic documents. They end up relying on the advice of IT departments who donâ€™t have any understanding of the legal side of the equation, which causes all sorts of tensions and misunderstandings.
Third, most lawyers are unfamiliar with the processes that ensure compliance is conducted quickly (because the ACCC usually imposes a tight time frame) and cost-effectively (because your client will be concerned about how much compliance is going to cost them).
Finally, it simply isnâ€™t cost effective to use lawyers to undertake either the retrieval or the collation exercise.
How can we help?
At LitSupport, we are experienced in locating documents relevant to section 155 notices, especially those stored in electronic formats. Itâ€™s what we do all day, every day.
Most importantly, the earlier you contact us to help, the better the result, because we can apply a systematic process (including the removal of duplicates) from the outset. This will save both time and money.
Simply put, we will make your life a whole lot easier.
To find out more about how LitSupport can help you to help your clients respond to section 155 notices, contact us today.