Due process and the reform of Colombia’s Competition Law Regime

May 2019

Due process and the reform of Colombia’s Competition Law Regime By Andrés Palacios Lleras 1

  1. Judicial decisions make for excellent gossip

On April 10, 2019, Colombia’s Constitutional Court announced a decision regarding due process and the administrative investigations (“Dawn Raids”) conducted by institutions that investigate violations regarding consumer law and transnational fraud. The press release for the decision stated that the institutions in charge of conducting such investigations have to ask a judge for authorization before performing unannounced visits and seizing equipment and information that is, according to the law, subject to legal reserve.2 The full content of the decision has not been published yet, but the decision has caused considerable speculation across Colombia’s competition law community.

Colombian practitioners and academics have complained for years about the way the competition authority — the Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio, or “SIC” — demands access to the corporate offices of investigated parties and seizes information stored in electronic equipment. According to the prevailing interpretation of SIC’s faculties as established in the law, this institution can conduct administrative visits without any judicial oversight, and can seize information found in parties’ equipment without a judicial order. Technically, the institution is not allowed to seize the information without consent of the owners of t…

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