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Orange contests the legitimacy of French antitrust investigation

French telecoms group Orange had several of its offices visited by French antirust officials recently but it’s not clear why.

Reuters and Bloomberg both characterised the visits as ‘raids’, but that evokes images of coppers in riot gear kicking down doors and arresting people. Perhaps all they meant to imply is that the visits were unexpected and intrusive. It seems four offices were affected and a bunch of documents seized, apparently concerning Orange’s fixed line businesses.

Telecoms.com reached out to Orange for comment and received the following, attributed to a spokesperson. “Orange confirms the existence of antitrust inspections at offices in France and has initiated legal procedures to contest the seizures by the French competition authority.”

There’s obviously not a lot to go on there, but it seems clear Orange isn’t happy about the actions of this antitrust authority and is far from convinced about the legitimacy of the seizure of company documents. Presumably, even in France, some kind of warrant or official mandate is required before the state can go barging into private property to grab whatever it wants. But maybe not.

Orange’s legal procedures are presumably designed, as least in part, to explore that matter. Legal due process is the foundation of civil society and it’s not incumbent on the French state to reveal what Orange is suspected of doing. If it’s incapable of doing so, not only should the seizures be returned, but substantial compensation should be paid to Orange for the material and reputational damage inflicted on it without adequate reason.

 

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