We have one of the world's leading competition and regulatory practices and for many years have been ranked top in the field of competition law by the leading legal directories.

We have an outstanding reputation in transactional work, corporate advisory work, cartels, abuse of dominance, market investigations, State aid and regulatory work. Our expertise makes us well placed to deal with the current increase in private actions based on competition law.

Our competition practice includes about 65 lawyers based in London, Brussels, Beijing and Hong Kong. They are all specialists in competition and sectoral regulatory law.

The group is led by 11 partners (six resident in London, four in Brussels and one in Hong Kong) and four special advisers. We have an additional ten partners in our Competition Litigation team. The competition specialists in our offices operate as one integrated team and have close working relationships with the competition practices of our 'Best Friends' in other major jurisdictions.

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Slaughter and May is applauded for its hugely responsive and well-connected practice in this sector. It particularly impresses with its work in merger control and contentious matters, with the London-Brussels axis important in the firm network Chambers Global, 2010

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Our Competition Group is one of the world’s leading competition and regulatory practices. Established in 1970, it has an outstanding reputation and a wealth of experience in the competition and regulatory field at both a UK and European level, and internationally. The group has consistently been ranked as an elite practice by all the directories, with individual partners in Brussels and London singled out as leaders in their field.

Merger control

We have advised on numerous high profile and challenging merger control cases over the years.

We established our Brussels office in 1989 ahead of the adoption of the EU Merger Regulation, since when we have been continuously involved in merger notifications to the European Commission. These have included:

  • advising on the Airtours merger notification and subsequent appeal to the Court of First Instance (now General Court) which resulted in the first annulment of a Merger Regulation prohibition decision
  • advising Bertelsmann on its recorded music joint venture (Sony BMG) with Sony, initially cleared unconditionally by the Commission at Phase II in 2004. Following a third party challenge which led to the annulment of the clearance in 2006 by the General Court, we obtained a second Phase II clearance in 2007. We also acted for Bertelsmann on the appeal to the ECJ which overruled the 2006 court judgment
  • acting for various parties in high profile cases where clearances were obtained at Phase I or Phase II (in some cases by offering suitable commitments to resolve competition concerns), such as Akzo Nobel/ICI, Air Liquide/BOC, Banco Santander/Abbey National, Cargill/Degussa Food Ingredients, GE/Smiths Aerospace, IBM/Telelogic, INEOS/Kerling, Kraft Foods/Cadbury, Procter & Gamble/Gillette, Reckit Benckiser/Boots Healthcare, Telia/Telenor, Thomas Cook/MyTravel, Unilever/Sara Lee body care and detergents businesses, Universal/BMG Music Publishing

We have for many years also had one of the leading UK merger control practices. In the last decade we have had a major involvement in a substantial portion of all mergers subject to detailed scrutiny by the Competition Commission (e.g. Cott/Macaw, Heinz/HP, Thomas Cook/Co-op). We are also regularly involved in securing merger clearances from the UK Office of Fair Trading (e.g. Asda/Netto, Global Radio/GCap, Travis Perkins/BSS).

The group is also regularly involved in leading and coordinating the merger control strategy and process in cases involving multiple filings in different jurisdictions around the world. All our competition specialists are accustomed to working as a single united team with lawyers in other jurisdictions to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality advice possible.

Antitrust, regulatory and State aid

We have extensive experience, acting for defendants and complainants, in antitrust and abuse of dominance cases under the EU and national competition rules. We also frequently assist and advise in EU State aid, public procurement and regulatory matters.

We are standing counsel on competition and regulatory issues to a number of high-profile clients such as BHP Billiton, British Airways, Centrica, Ericsson, GlaxoSmithKline, INEOS, Ordnance Survey, Royal Mail, Unilever, United Utilities, Walmart/Asda and YTL.

Recent disclosable examples of high profile Article 101 and 102 cases include:

  • advising British Airways in relation to the Commission’s review of its transatlantic alliance with American Airlines and Iberia, resulting in a Commission Article 9 decision (subject to commitments) in July 2010. We also advised on the Commission’s investigation into alleged cartel activity involving air freight services and the OFT’s investigations in relation to passenger services
  • the Commission’s review of the proposed joint venture between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto
  • advising Google in relation to the ongoing Article 102 investigations by the European Commission
  • advising Unilever on its settlement of the European Commission's investigation into the consumer detergents sector
  • various other Commission cartel decisions and subsequent appeals to the General Court, as well as OFT investigations

Competition litigation

We have extensive experience in appeals against European Commission decisions, as well as appeals against national competition authorities and regulators (in the UK and elsewhere). We also have cutting-edge experience of the trend towards private actions, including involvement in ground-breaking competition litigation before the English and European courts.