When I read this story, I had to check the date and make sure that it wasn’t April Fools’ Day, but no, it seems that it’s on the level. A large Irish law firm called Matheson has launched a phone app for its clients, called “Dawn Raid”. Now I own a steam-powered Windows phone that does not run many apps – although it does play the theme tune from “Upstairs, Downstairs” as my ringtone, so all is forgiven – and so I am not terribly au fait with how they work. But apparently, according to the Irish Times, this app “advises companies how to prepare for a raid by the authorities and how to handle raids once they occur [and] includes contacts for a ‘rapid response team’ in Matheson in the event of a raid”. The advice includes practising “mock raids”, appointing staff to “shadow” investigators as they search their offices to “seek to prevent disclosure of legally privileged records”, and setting up “clean rooms” where officers should be asked to wait.
A Matheson spokesman said that the app was being offered because the number of dawn raids in Ireland is increasing and “this trend may continue, as regulators’ resources increase and Brexit may mean that EU regulators will no longer dawn raid in the UK”. (What worries me most about this Doomsday scenario is discovering that “to dawn raid” is now a verb.) Non-Matheson lawyers are not convinced, with some suggesting that the very presence of the app on an accused’s phone could help the prosecution show that they expected to be raided, while others simply thought that it was an odd position for a law firm to take. What it has done is tell a very wide audience (via the national press rather than an expensive publicity campaign) that (a) there is an Irish law firm called Matheson, and (b) they specialise in white collar crime matters. A win for the marketing department, at any rate.
It seems surprising, but many law firms offer “dawn raid” toolkits and apps. Even Royal Mail has its own in-house “crisis response app” – which is the same thing but more sensibly named!
Welcome to the blog, Cartebien, and thank you for your comment. I certainly think that crisis management is a “good thing” – part of the future planning of every compliance department – but these dawn raid toolkits seem to start from the premise that the investigators are in the wrong and are out to get you… I tend to think of crisis management as addressing issues such as “what if our major client disappears?” or “what if a member of our own staff steals from us?”, rather than “what if the authorities realise what we’re up to?” (which is more the tone of the dawn raid app). But I may be wrong!