Competition

Many of the world’s leading companies turn to us for competition advice on their day-to-day operations as well as business critical projects and investigations. Our clients look to us to deliver outcome-focused advice with pragmatic commercial acumen.

We have a market leading practice in respect of merger control, antitrust (including cartels), sectoral regulation, competition litigation and State aid. That means we can put together a team best suited to work on any competition matter our clients face. We understand the objectives and priorities of the regulators, which enables us to achieve successful results.

  • We have been consistently ranked among the elite by the legal directories, with individual partners singled out as leaders in their field.
  • We have offices with market leading expertise in London, Brussels, Hong Kong and Beijing. We have 70 competition specialists spread across our international offices meaning we can handle even the largest and most complex projects.
  • We advise our clients worldwide. We have close ties with the competition practices of leading law firms across the globe. Our lawyers work with these local experts as a single team.
  • We focus on effective project and team management at every stage of a project. We also have cutting edge technology which we use on our projects to provide efficient use of resources and ways of working.

Key experience

Antitrust

We act for defendants and complainants on contentious issues worldwide. We have particular expertise on coordinating cartel investigations and behavioural cases across different jurisdictions.

Recent examples include advising:

  • Google in relation to the Article 102 investigation by the European Commission into its search and advertising practices. This high profile investigation raises several important issues regarding the application of competition law to the digital economy.
  • Booking.com on the multijurisdictional online hotel booking investigations. We performed a lead strategic advisory and coordination role for Booking.com in respect of several parallel investigations throughout Europe. 
  • Deutsche Bank in the context of the multiple investigations relating to interbank offered rates, including cartel investigations by the European Commission. Our work involved coordinating closely with other law firms around the world in relation to investigations by the competition and financial regulatory authorities.

We also advise on a wide range of other antitrust matters, including commercial agreements, pricing (especially by companies with strong market positions), distribution, licensing and supply agreements. We also help clients to establish and maintain compliance programmes, including providing training on how to deal with dawn raids.

Merger control

We advise on the competition and regulatory aspects of international acquisitions, mergers and joint ventures. We see a continuous throughput and critical mass of the type of work that allows expertise and excellence to be maintained and developed in this field.  Chambers have noted that we have “one of the strongest merger control teams in the market”.

We have a particular expertise in handling complex international cases and are often called upon to coordinate merger filings worldwide. Recent examples include advising:

  • Vodafone on the EUMR aspects of its acquisition of Liberty Global’s German and Central and Eastern European cable operations, a deal which transforms the telecoms landscape in the relevant jurisdictions.
  • Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc. on its acquisition of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc, a combination of two leading professional services firms. We advised on the EUMR aspects of the transaction and coordinated the merger control approvals across the world.
  • Innogy on the unconditional CMA phase 2 clearance for the proposed combination of its subsidiary Npower with SSE’s domestic retail operations in Great Britain. The merger was designed to bring together the third and sixth largest players in GB domestic energy supply.

For these purposes, we maintain detailed databases of over 150 merger control and foreign direct investment regimes around the world, which we keep up-to-date through our own individual country experts and contacts with our international network of competition specialists. 

State aid

We advise private sector and government clients on all aspects of State aid matters across a broad range of sectors, including investigations, transactions and litigious proceedings.

Our recent experience includes advising:

  • The UK Government on a number of key strategic matters such as the Green Investment Bank, the Hinckley Point nuclear power plant and the rescuing and restructuring of a number of systemically important banks.
  • Foreign government entities such as the Portuguese Ministry of Finance in relation to the recapitalisation of a number of Portuguese banks.
  • A number of private entities affected by the European Commission’s tax state aid investigations.

These projects require a detailed familiarity with the State aid rules and extensive liaison with the European Commission.  Chambers have noted that our State aid practice is “formidable”. We believe that very few private sector practices have an equivalent breadth and depth of experience in this area.

Market and sector inquiries

We advise on the market and sector inquires conducted by the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority.  We work with our clients to understand the risks and opportunities posed by these inquiries and then implement strategies to maximise their chances of achieving favourable outcomes.

Our recent experience includes advising:

  • Google in relation to the CMA market study into online platforms and digital advertising.
  • Dignity on the CMA market investigation into funerals and crematoria services.
  • Nationwide on the CMA market investigation into retail banking.
  • Various clients in relation to the EC’s e-commerce sector inquiry.”
Competition litigation

Our competition litigation practice is preeminent: we are advising on the largest standalone and follow-on damages claims in the Competition Appeal Tribunal and the High Court. We also regularly act on appeal proceedings, including for reductions of fines imposed for cartel infringements.

Our recent experience in this area includes advising:

  • MAN in several high-value damages actions following the European Commission’s truck cartel investigation. Two of the claims will test the UK’s new collective proceedings regime. The scope and extent of the litigation makes it one of the most significant competition law-related disputes of recent years.
  • British Airways in relation to the multijurisdictional damages actions following the passenger fuel surcharge and cargo competition investigations. This case was widely considered to be one of the largest and most complex pieces of multi-party litigation before the English courts.
  • Booking.com on its successful appeal to the Dusseldorf court against a BKA prohibition decision. This case involved working closely with a leading German firm to develop a robust case against the German competition authority’s findings.

Our strength lies in our extensive experience in litigious competition matters combined with our ability to handle large-scale litigation, including cross-border cases.

Sectoral regulation

We advise governments and industry clients on restructurings, regulatory initiatives and transactions in all of the major regulated sectors. 

Our work includes advising on legislative changes, price control, procurement and other aspects of regulatory strategy. We also advise on merger control work with regulatory issues.

Our recent experience includes advising:

  • United Utilities on its joint venture with Severn Trent – the first of merger of non-household water and retail wastewater businesses.
  • Northern Powergrid on its successful – groundbreaking – appeal to the CMA against Ofgem’s price control decision.
  • Global Infrastructure Partners on the sale of London City Airport and the sale of a 50.01% shareholding in London Gatwick Airport.

You can be confident that our lawyers are at the top of their game as Chambers note that we are "one of the very top firms in the world” for competition law. We are ranked as the top competition law firm in the UK (jointly) by the Legal 500 and Chambers, and as a leading firm in Europe and Asia by Chambers, Legal 500 and Global Competition Review.

Key contacts