Update your crisis response and dawn raid plans to avoid uncertainty

When you are running a business, the last thing you want to think about is the possibility of things going wrong. But the right crisis preparation can greatly reduce the impact on your operation and key to successful preparation is ensuring that plans are in place. Without a plan, it is very easy for things to get missed and for the situation to descend into chaos.

However, keeping your plans up to date, making sure that they actually reflect the way that the business is currently operating is just as crucial. In a crisis situation an out-of-date plan can quickly become a hindrance rather than a help. We recommend that plans are reviewed and tested annually or when a significant change occurs within the business.

Below are some of the key issues for you to consider when reviewing and amending two key plans – your crisis response and dawn raid strategies. 

1.  Changes to enforcing bodies and their relevant officers

2.  Change of appointed person’s contact details

3.  Your legal contacts and maintaining privilege

4.  Social media policies

5.  Operational changes

6.  Reallocation of areas designated to the investigation

7.  Updates to Directors & Officers Insurance Cover

8.  Planning for the worst


1. Changes to enforcing bodies and their relevant officers

From April 2014 the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) replaces the existing functions of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the Competition Commission (CC). Therefore, as the enforcer has now changed you will want this reflected in the documentation to ensure that everyone knows who to expect. Equally, any change in details to enforcing officers or any other enforcing bodies should also be amended.

2. Change of appointed person’s contact details

Whilst there may be an individual(s) who is appointed as having authority to speak and act on behalf of the organisation at the time of a crisis or dawn raid, if there are any changes to their details, role, or if they are succeeded by other individuals, these updates should be reflected in the plans. Doing this makes sure that rest of the organisation as well as external investigators understand what the reporting line is at the time of a crisis or dawn raid, minimising the potential for chaos, panic and informational leaks to the media.

3. Your legal contacts and maintaining privilege

It is very likely that you will need legal support in a crisis situation. Ensure that all documentation has up-to-date contact details for the designated lawyers relevant to a crisis or dawn raid so they can be contacted as quickly as possible when such an incident arises.  Making those decisions in advance means that you know you have the right people on hand when you most need them. 

4. Social media policies

If you policy does not include or address social media, it should.  Information travels very fast and especially quickly by your own employees so this is now a vital part of the PR strategy for any crisis. 

5. Operational changes

Any operational changes in a business (such as updates to IT systems and where documents can be found) need to be reflected in its crisis response and dawn raid strategy.  This will assist with quickly responding to queries raised by external investigators and therefore minimise the stressful experience of a crisis or dawn raid and help to diminish investigators’ concerns in the business’ practices and systems.

It is important to know who does what and with whom both during a crisis as well as normal business activity, and ensure that the responsibilities during a crisis reflect this.

6. Reallocation of areas designated to the investigation

If the business has relocated, the crisis response and dawn raid plans will need to factor in new details of rooms or areas of the site which can be allocated to the investigation.  This will minimise the external investigators’ waiting time to commence their investigation and will also avoid unnecessary exposure of irrelevant areas of the business to investigators, whilst again upholding as much as possible investigators’ confidence in the business’ practices. 

7. Updates to Directors & Officers Insurance Cover

Any updates to insurance policies covering crisis response and dawn raids should be provided for in any internal material which provides a strategy for such incidents.  These will include, for example, any updates to insurers, amount of excess, date of renewal.  It is imperative to update any insurers’ contact details so they can be contacted as quickly as possible.  Equally, any changes to details of directors and officers must be notified to the relevant insurers. 

8. Planning for the worst

Any business, particularly those which operate across multiple sites, will need to update their crisis response strategies to take into account emerging risks – whether it is from the ever-changing and challenging geopolitical landscape and weather patterns surrounding them, or supply chain issues like horsemeat.  Whilst these challenges may present the most unprecedented circumstances, strategizing for the worst can in many ways offer peace of mind in such crises, and may assist with mitigating liability.

Maintaining updated crisis response and dawn raid plans could make the difference between chaos and calm.

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.