Competition Law

Competition law deals with the anti-competitive activities of businesses and abuses of dominance. It also regulates state subsidies and controls mergers. The competition law of the EU and of each EU country aims to ensure that the markets remains competitive, and that consumer welfare is maximised through lower prices, quality products, and greater choice. You can find below our areas of expertise:

Compliance programmes and AI tools

Implementing the right culture throughout the business is integral to an effective competition law compliance programme.

Comprehensive risk management policies are less onerous and more cost effective than dealing with a dawn raid or a regulatory body investigation. Additionally, competition authorities may look favourably on such compliance efforts and are more likely to show leniency towards companies that can prove they have a genuine culture of compliance.

We aim to simplify this challenging area of law by providing bespoke commercial and practical risk management programmes in a language that ensures all levels of the business understand how competition law applies to what they do at work every day.

This includes formulating 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 in-depth audits if anti-competitive conduct is suspected, or as part of a due diligence process.

While traditional law firms have been slow to adopt AI, we are at the forefront of technology advances in this ever-changing landscape. Together with leading forensic IT and legal outsourcing firms, we advise clients on the adoption and implementation of the latest AI data analytics surveillance software. This is focused on prevention and early detection in identifying and addressing potential competition law or regulatory breaches.

Mergers & Joint Ventures

Competition law is critical in the context of merger and joint venture deals and global transactions. We are highly expert in structuring deals and designing appropriate remedies to remove any competition concerns. We also advise third parties wishing to act as a complainant against a proposed merger.

‘We have a great network of like-minded firms, because we can use great people who think like us, wherever they may be in the world’

Marie Leppard, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • Copart, Inc. on Phase 2 full clearance for its acquisition of Green Parts Specialist Holdings Ltd (Hills Motors) before the CMA.
  • Imprivata, Global medical technology company, on the competition and public interest aspects of its proposed acquisition of Isosec and subsequent CMA review.
  • London Stock Exchange Group on obtaining EU Phase 2 merger clearance with remedies for its merger with Refinitiv
  • Siemens and BP in relation to a Joint Venture.
  • Statoil Fuel & Retail (now Circle K) on its merger with Shell’s retail fuel network in Denmark before the European Commission.
  • PKN Orlen, leading Polish oil company, on obtaining EU Phase 2 merger clearance with remedies for its merger with rival Grupa Lotos.
  • Refresco on Phase 1 clearance with remedies for its acquisition of Cott’s bottling activities before the CMA.
  • Johnson & Johnson on obtaining EU Phase 2 merger clearance with remedies for its acquisition of Synthes.
  • EEX/Powernext as a third-party complainant in the acquisition of Trayport by ICE before the CMA.
  • Refresco in relation to notification to the CMA of its proposed buyout by PAI and BCiM.
  • CityJet on its long-term wet lease arrangement with Aer Lingus, involving very rare strategic exit rationale.
  • Private Equity Houses on mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures in the UK and Europe.

Market Power

We act both for and against companies that have significant market power. That is possible because market power in itself is not unlawful; it is the misuse of that market power that gives rise to competition issues.

‘We are still the only law firm to have successfully obtained a competition law injunction against Google’

Marie Leppard, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • Slovak Telekom in relation to EC investigation into refusal to supply and margin squeeze conduct, as well as subsequent litigation at the EU General Court.
  • Various complainants in EC investigations against Google.
  • Microsoft in relation to the EC investigation into the tying of Internet Explorer with Windows.
  • Huawei in the EU Court of Justice Huawei v. ZTE preliminary ruling concerning Article 102 TFEU and SEP licensing.
  • BidonThis as a third-party complainant resulting in the CMA’s investigation into ATG Media’s suspected abuse of dominance in the supply of auction services in the UK.
  • NHBC in relation to the CMA’s investigation into structural warranty service undertakings for new homes.

Disputes

From challenging European Commission decisions to securing urgent relief from the UK Courts to prevent a client from being cut off by a dominant supplier, we combine our mediation and litigation skills to resolve disputes effectively and pragmatically.

‘I use my litigation skills on a daily basis to the benefit of our clients. Disputes are there to be resolved – in the interest of our client, of course’

Oliver Bretz, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • Unlockd in its litigation against Google for abusing its dominant position by removing Unlockd’s apps from the Google Play Store ecosystem and denying access to its ad server Admob.
  • Slovak Telekom in Case T-851/14, Slovak Telekom v. Commission.
  • Huawei in Case C-170/13, Huawei v. ZTE.
  • Samsung in Case T-84/13, Samsung SDI and others v. Commission.
  • Leading Asian mobile device makers in several arbitration proceedings against SEP holders.
  • Leading car manufacturer in arbitration proceeding against parts supplier.

Cartels & Anti-Competitive Agreements

We have considerable experience in advising clients across a range of sectors on complex cartel investigations and anti-competitive agreements, including before the European Commission (EC), the European Courts, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Belgian Competition Authority.

We have established excellent working relationships based on our many years of experience working for, or with, the competition authorities on a number of complex cases.

We understand the time-critical nature of a company’s response when a cartel investigation is launched. Our close relationships with leading forensic IT and legal outsourcing firms assist clients in high pressure situations by responding quickly to dawn raids by regulatory and enforcement officials, ensuring forensic evidence preservation, document collection and using the latest artificial intelligence software in the most effective manner to ensure clients are able to make informed decisions.

We value the need to provide sound judgment and commercial advice on the antitrust risks associated with proposed commercial agreements with business partners. We ensure our advice always focuses on the key issues, a commercial approach to risk and setting out a practical way forward.

CLIENTS & CASES

  • Barclays in relation to the Libor and Forex investigations by the European Commission.
  • BidonThis as a third-party complainant resulting in the CMA’s investigation into ATG Media’s suspected concerted practices in the supply of auction services in the UK.
  • International Investment Bank in relation to the FCA’s investigation into the Libor/Euribor misconduct.
  • AXA in relation to the CMA’s market investigation into digital comparison tools and follow on investigation into a price com parison website (PCW) for its use of most favoured nation clauses in the home insurance market.
  • National Lighting Company in relation to the CMA’s domestic light fittings Resale Price Maintenance (RPM) investigation.
  • International pharmaceutical company on its defence in relation to the CMA’s investigation into suspected anti-competitive agreements.
  • International Oil Company in relation to the EC’s investigation into the alleged manipulation of the energy agency Platts’ oil price benchmarks
  • Multinational resource company on the establishment of a new European benchmark pricing mechanism.
  • International pharmaceutical company on its proposed global co-development and commercialisation agreement.

Commercial agreements and strategy

Competition law issues can arise from many common types of commercial agreement. For example, when it comes to distribution agreements, as well as limiting a supplier’s ability to set a product’s resale price, European competition law is generally hostile to suppliers imposing restrictions on cross-border or online sales.  IP rights licensing can raise additional and potentially complex issues.

This is important, since an agreement that infringes competition law will be unenforceable. In addition, the European Commission and many national competition authorities are actively investigating distribution agreements that raise competition concerns and, in many cases, imposing substantial fines.

Our lawyers have extensive experience of advising a wide range of companies on the competition law implications of their commercial agreements, including selective and exclusive distribution, software and content licensing, media rights exploitation, R&D joint ventures and IP commercialisation.   

We have also assisted companies in defending themselves against competition law investigations relating to their commercial arrangements or as third parties to investigations into the commercial arrangements of their suppliers or competitors.  

'Having advised some of the world’s largest e-commerce companies on their commercial agreements and strategy, as well as related antitrust investigations, I am well versed in how online markets function and am able rapidly to zero in on potential issues and assist clients with calibrating the associated risk.'

Becket McGrath, Partner

We have particular expertise in e-commerce, with experience advising online retailers, marketplaces, pricing software vendors and games companies. Euclid is a founding member of eControl Global, which helps brands gain more control over their distribution arrangements through the use of selective distribution. We work closely with brands, ranging from household names to start-ups looking to sell products online for the first time.

 'I love working with our eControl brands, as we help them ensure that their products are sold in a way that protects their brand value, while maximising the benefits offered by e-commerce for them and consumers.'

Sarah Long, Partner

Environmental Competition Law

We believe that a much more holistic approach to environmental and sustainability issues is urgently required to boost European efforts to address the climate crisis. We have therefore developed a new approach to environmental issues and competition law, one that involves thought leadership at the frontier between law and public policy, based on an open and constructive dialogue with regulators.

‘We wanted competition law to be part of the solution, rather than remaining a problem. It seems like the rest of the world has come around to our thinking’

Becket McGrath, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • European Recycling Systems in relation to on facilities sharing and vertical issues.
  • Chemicals Trade Association – representation on studies regarding toxicity.
  • Major Logistics Provider on back-haul CO2 savings through data sharing and cooperation.

Market and Sector Investigations

Market and sector investigations are complex and can result in fundamental changes to commercial practises and behaviour in a sector, which can be extremely burdensome to the companies involved. We find innovative solutions to ease that burden.

‘I used to work in a major bank just after the financial crisis. It felt like the whole sector was under scrutiny, despite the fact that we had done nothing wrong. At Euclid, we want to change this.’

Natalie Greenwood, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • TESLA in relation to the CMA’s market study into EV charging.
  • Memoria in relation to the CMA’s market investigation into funeral directors and crematoria services.
  • HBF in relation to the CMA’s consumer law investigation into the leasehold housing market.
  • BP on the CMA’s market study into Electric Vehicle Charging.
  • European Commission together with Europe Economics, appointed to assist and advise the European Commission DG Comp in its market study in relation to loan syndication in Europe.
  • AXA in relation to the CMA’s market investigation into digital comparison tools and follow-on investigation into a price comparison website (PCW) for its use of “most favoured nation” clauses in the home insurance market.
  • Mastercard on settlement of the Payment System Regulator’s Chapter 1 investigation into prepaid cards in the UK.
  • Generic pharmaceutical client in relation to the CMA’s excessive pricing and anti-competitive conduct investigation.
  • StubHub on the CMA’s secondary ticketing consumer protection investigation.

State Support

Under European Union rules, it is unlawful for EU Member States to provide financial or other assistance to selected companies, without the specific approval of the European Commission. We have advised both EU Member States and companies on all aspects of the EU state aid rules, and have particular expertise in financial services, postal services, media, infrastructure projects and energy.

‘If a contract is granted by a state-owned company at a favourable rate, that could be State aid. State aid is unlawful until it is authorised by the European Commission’

Becket McGrath, Partner

CLIENTS & CASES

  • ALRO in relation to a EC state aid investigation regarding a Power Purchase agreement with Hidroelectrica.
  • ALRO on the EC state aid investigation into the Romanian renewable energy (“Green Certificates”) scheme, and subsequent amendments to the scheme.
  • Bpost in relation to EC state aid investigation regarding compensation for services of general interest, and related litigation.
  • National Media Federation as a complainant to the EC against state broadcaster.

We are the go-to firm for any company looking to overcome regulatory hurdles in the UK and EU. Our lawyers offer real solutions based on real experience.