Establishing a team to manage the investigation

As soon as suspected antitrust or cartel issues arise, an internal team should be established to handle the investigation. In some jurisdictions and for some sectors there may be self-reporting obligations at a very early stage in the investigation. For example, in the UK the financial services sector has to deal with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in an open and co-operative way, and must tell the FCA promptly if there is anything about which it should be aware. It is therefore important to move as quickly as possible to gather information to assess whether an early self-report should be made. Please also see further information on self-reporting.

The internal team selected will have responsibility for instructing external counsel, identifying the relevant personnel for interview, collecting documents (electronic and hard copy), acting as the interface between the organisation and any external advisers and ultimately presenting the results of the investigation to the organisation.


  • the internal team must ensure integrity of process at every stage of the investigation. It is therefore essential that those selected to form the organisation’s internal team are not implicated in the matters under investigation
  • where executive directors are or may be implicated in the matters being investigated, it may be necessary to involve non-executive directors at an early stage to oversee the investigation process. Alternatively, senior personnel from a parent organisation or other business division might be appropriate to lead the investigation
  • the internal team should include employees from the IT, legal, risk and compliance, human resources and public relations areas, as well as from senior management. However, consideration should be given as to whether all members of the internal team need to know the subject matter of the investigation or merely that an investigation is being conducted
  • the internal team should be warned at the outset that its work is strictly confidential (although it may not be privileged – see further information on obtaining privilege) and that team members should not discuss the investigation with colleagues outside the team. It is often sensible to allocate a project name to the investigation to help preserve confidentiality
  • reporting lines and the responsibility of individuals should be made clear at the outset, including responsibility for instructing external advisers
  • ensure the internal team is appropriately resourced for the investigation, which may be highly intensive
  • consideration should be given at the outset as to whether to instruct external legal advisers. There is no requirement that external advisers need to be retained, but there are potential benefits in retaining external assistance. Legal advice given by external lawyers typically has the benefit of privilege protection and external counsel is also likely to have experience in conducting similar investigations, and expertise in interviewing witnesses and reviewing available documentary evidence (both in electronic and hard copy form). In particular in the context of suspected infringements of European competition law, the internal communications of in-house lawyers will not be regarded as privileged by the European Commission, which may have a right to obtain internal investigation documents, such as any interview notes taken by in-house counsel or other members of the internal team. Please click here for further information relating to document control