You know price fixing and sharing customers or markets with rivals is wrong. You probably know that bid-rigging is wrong (although some construction companies didn't know and were fined anyway). Sharing business secrets is also illegal (but some UK private schools appeared not to know and were penalised). You might think that you would be safe if you don't actively share pricing data at a meeting – a gas cylinder manufacturer wrongly thought so and was fined. You might also know that some of these activities can be criminal in some countries.
Competition authorities have extensive powers of investigation. Today, there are more regulators, with wider powers and new powerful technological tools to find incriminating evidence. Regulatory interventions reach higher up the corporate ladder, as penalties increase and senior executives go to jail.
Breaches of competition law can lead to reputational damage, lower share prices and (in some jurisdictions) the risk of individual criminal prosecutions, disqualification of directors and subsequent damages actions.
When faced with these breaches, do you know how to approach the situation and face the regulators? We do. Our personal, commercial approach to handling cartel investigations enables us to conduct internal investigations quickly and efficiently, review the evidence pragmatically and advise on the best tactical approach.
We understand the reality of the competition law risks that you face and provide commercially robust solutions. We have a breadth and depth of experience and expertise across our offices that enables us to translate complex legal analysis into clear and specific guidance.
We provide compliance audits and risks analyses; we help businesses to understand their own specific risk profile and set up early warning systems; we guide directors in complying with their duties; we step in when allegations of infringements arise or investigations take place; and we counsel businesses in using competition law to their advantage. Most of all, we love what we do and like to win on behalf of our clients.
Notable deals / highlights
- Advising on nine international cartel investigations including LIBOR/TIBOR, automotive parts, maritime car carriers, liner shipping, chemicals (Italy), online hotel bookings (UK) and tour operations (Belgium).
- Instructed on what the EU Competition Commissioner recently described as the landmark abuse of dominance case of the next year. We represent National Instruments in its complaint against The Math Works.
- We are one of only three advisers from across the whole of the EU appointed this year to advise the European Commission's Competition Directorate on its competition enforcement activities and on its contribution to EU competition legislative proposals and policies.
- Successfully defended All Nippon Airways, the global Japanese airline, on an air cargo fuel surcharge cartel case. In fact we successfully defended three carriers in the case, which involved 25 airlines.