As part of our global antitrust offering, Sidley has a strong and well-respected European competition practice comprising a seamlessly integrated, multinational team based in Brussels and London. Our EU competition lawyers have been involved in many ground-breaking and complex cases in recent years across all areas of EU competition work. Our team is known for providing practical advice that gets straight to the heart of the matter and a deep understanding of the political and regulatory challenges involved in competition law cases. Clients appreciate our business sense and our collegial, team based approach.
Our EU competition lawyers have decades of experience representing corporations, trade associations, governments entities and regulatory bodies in the full spectrum of competition law matters, including merger control, commercial practices (such as cooperation, research and development, licensing and distribution), cartels (including investigations and leniency applications), abuse of dominance, sector inquiries, intellectual property, state aid and all aspects of competition litigation.
Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of the EU institutions, regularly counseling clients on matters before the European Commission in Brussels and the European Union Courts in Luxembourg (the General Court and the Court of Justice). In fact, we have an uncommon insight into the workings of the European Commission through representing the Commission in several cartel appeals before the General Court. Our lawyers are accustomed to dealing with EU Member State national authorities and courts. Utilizing good contacts with local counsel, we often coordinate multi-jurisdictional merger control advice and other types of competition law advice as countries around the world increase their enforcement activity.
Our lawyers have handled competition law issues for applicants, complainants and defendants in a wide range of industries and business sectors. Sidley also has a number of global industry teams focused on sectors such as financial services, insurance, media and entertainment, technology, life sciences, agribusiness and energy, all of which include competition lawyers with in-depth sector experience.
A distinguishing feature of our practice is that we often work with our clients’ in-house public affairs and government relations teams, alongside our work with in-house legal teams. We also have our own team of skilled economists with experience in competition matters. Another added value for our clients is that our European competition practice is closely integrated with our regulatory and trade practices in Brussels and Geneva, with a number of lawyers spanning more than one of these disciplines.
Our EU competition lawyers regularly advise on the competition law implications of contemplated merger, acquisition and joint venture transactions. We prepare and file merger control notifications and manage relations with the European Commission and national competition authorities to obtain approval of such transactions, including through the negotiation and implementation of remedies. We have broad experience coordinating multi-jurisdictional merger control filings and clearance procedures on a regional and global basis, working with other Sidley offices and a network of local counsel around the world. Our lawyers have also successfully contested third-party mergers or acquisitions that would adversely affect our clients’ competitive positions.
Public Authority Investigations
Public authority antitrust investigations increasingly present a concern to many global companies. We are skilled in defending our clients in public authority investigations regarding alleged cartels, abuse of dominance and other antitrust violations, both at the EU and national level. We frequently advise clients on leniency policies and coordinate multi-jurisdictional leniency applications. When needed, we also file complaints regarding anti-competitive conduct of our clients’ competitors or suppliers.
Our competition lawyers have an impressive track record representing clients before the General Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg in appeals of decisions of the European Commission in merger control, antitrust and state aid cases. Working closely with our litigation team, we also assist clients in civil antitrust litigation throughout Europe and in arbitrations involving European antitrust issues.
Our EU competition team works side by side with Sidley’s corporate lawyers to assess the antitrust compliance and enforceability of provisions in distribution, licensing, supply, co-marketing, research and development and other types of commercial agreements. We also advise on the applicability of the conditional safe harbors of EU and national “block exemption regulations.”
Our EU lawyers have served as legal counsel on many of the most sensitive state aid issues in the European Union and around the world. We assist industries that face subsidy challenges, assessing the compatibility of national practices with applicable EU and international rules. We work with clients to assess compliance of state subsidies or other assistance (such as favorable tax treatment or state guarantees) granted to clients in connection with investments in research and development, production or other facilities in the European Union. Sidley lawyers regularly defend clients in state aid investigations by the European Commission and file complaints against unlawful state subsidies and other forms of state assistance granted to our clients’ competitors. We also counsel clients on the formalities of privatization and the effect of privatization on the countervailability of subsidies.
Antitrust Compliance and Training
Sidley’s EU competition group has assisted numerous companies and trade associations in implementing regional and global antitrust compliance programs aimed at avoiding involvement in public authority investigations and civil antitrust litigation. We have developed tailored compliance manuals and other documentation and carried out company-wide training programs in a number of industry sectors.