Abuse of dominance
We are regularly involved in abuse of dominance investigations, either on behalf of companies under investigation or on behalf of complainants adversely affected by anti-competitive behaviour. We have significant experience in investigations of the European Commission (EC) and the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the French Autorité de la Concurrence, in some cases acting alongside other law firms.
Our experience covers all aspects of abuse of dominance cases, including refusal to supply, bundling, margin squeeze, excessive pricing, unfair trading conditions, discriminatory practices, etc. We have been particularly involved in many of the leading abuse of dominance investigations in the tech sector.
Regulation of digital gatekeepers
Governments around the world are racing to enact new regulatory regimes to curb the power of “digital gatekeepers”. Our team is at the forefront of these moves. Tom Smith led the legal team working on the UK’s Digital Markets Unit and the influential digital advertising market study. Prof. Damien Geradin has been heavily involved in the shaping of the European Digital Markets Act, representing tech clients and testifying before governments, regulators and parliamentary committees.
We help clients to capitalise on these new laws, shape the laws as they are being drafted, and understand their wide-reaching ramifications.
Cartels and anti-competitive agreements
We act for both complainants and defendants in all stages of cartel investigations, including dawn raids. We also provide insightful advice on compliance strategy, co-ordination of leniency applications, or negotiations of settlements procedures. We represent clients before the European Commission and the UK Competition and Markets Authority, but also other national authorities, acting sometimes alongside other law firms.
We also provide competition law advice on a wide range of agreements, including horizontal cooperation agreements, licensing and supply agreements, distribution agreements etc.
We provide competition law advice at all stages of M&A deals. We accompany buyers or sellers all along the transactional process, including for feasibility assessments, notification requirement analyses, the review of contractual agreements, the set-up of clean teams, and for the notification process. We also advise third parties for potential complaints against a proposed merger.
Thanks to our previous experience, we have strong relationships with the teams responsible for merger review at the European Commission and at national competition authorities, in particular the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Belgian Competition Authority, the German Federal Cartel Office, and the French Competition Authority. For complex multi-jurisdictional mergers, we collaborate with the most experienced law firms in different jurisdictions.
Post-Brexit, the CMA is playing a prominent and muscular role in national and international mergers. The CMA investigates mergers in parallel to the European Commission, and the UK is also setting up a new regime with heightened scrutiny for acquisitions by digital gatekeepers. Tom Smith is a former CMA Director of Mergers who can help merging parties, or opponents of the merger, make their arguments effectively.
We assist companies in navigating the evolving foreign investment control processes by offering early advice on deal strategy and then drafting and coordinating notifications to Government agencies to achieve timely clearances.
Competition litigation and arbitration
We regularly represent clients before the European Courts and we have handled multiple appeals against European Commission decisions in cartel, abuse of dominance and State Aid cases. We have also acted on behalf of clients in preliminary ruling cases originating from domestic courts.
We provide strategic advice in competition litigation, whether for stand-alone or follow-on damage actions. When needed, our advice extends to the way subsequent litigation may strategically affect investigations of competition authorities.
Prof. Damien Geradin is also a leading authority in the field of arbitration involving competition law or intellectual property issues. He has been involved in multiple arbitral proceedings either as counsel or expert witness. He regularly collaborates with leading international law firms in this area.
We assist clients in competition law compliance programmes. Because a compliance program can only have a positive impact if it is accepted by its employees and is in line with the corporate culture, we make sure that it is written in a language familiar to the business world in which the recipients of the message operate.
Our services include drafting and updating guidelines, giving staff presentations and training and performing simulated dawn raids including acting as standing counsel in the event of future dawn raids and investigations. We also assist our clients in conducting internal audits if anti-competitive conduct is suspected or as part of a due diligence process.
Our team also has a large experience with respect to trade associations and their specific needs and risk profiles.
We advise companies on potential State aid aspects of proposed investments, and we represent clients during European Commission investigations, as well as before the European and national courts and on the UK’s new state aid regime.
Our practice covers all aspects of State aid compliance, and we assist clients with compliance assessment of any public intervention in the economy, complaints to the European Commission, defence against allegation of unlawful State aid and recovery procedures.