Antitrust and Competition
Our Antitrust and Competition Group works across our Brussels and Dublin offices and is widely recognised as being at the forefront of this practice area in Ireland.
First established over 30 years ago, our group has a track record for precedent-setting wins in both merger control and contentious competition law cases, including in litigation before the Irish Supreme Court and the European Courts. We also pioneered the use of competitive effects analysis and economic evidence and testimony.
‘The team has deep local expertise and deep knowledge of the regulator and how it works.’Chambers 2023
100% top tier team. First class service across all EU and regulatory subject matters.The Legal 500, 2023 (Tier 1)
‘Very engaged with their clients and really devote a lot of effort to understanding the key issues in the case. Provide well thought through and insightful analysis of these issues and focus at all times on achieving the optimal and most cost efficient outcome for the client.’The Legal 500, 2023
‘Deep competition authority understanding and relationships with the CCPC. Ability to schedule meetings and calls with the CCPC. Fee flexibility to align phasing of merger authority process with client spend. Available at short notice. Innovative approach to messaging in a competition authority objection.’The Legal 500, 2022
‘Offers insight into EC investigations through its Brussels office. Also handles substantial CCPC behavioural investigations.’Chambers 2022
We advise on the full range of antitrust and competition matters, including merger clearance, “dominant firm" issues, cartel defence, state aid, sector regulation and EU law issues such as free movement, public procurement and customs.
Our clients include major multinational companies, state-owned operators, regulated utilities, small and medium enterprises and trade and representative associations. We also act for regulatory bodies, including the European Commission and the Commission for Communications Regulation, and for government departments.
We are the only Irish group to include lawyers with previous, high-level public enforcement experience at the Irish enforcement agency, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the “CCPC”).
Our State aid practice has unmatched experience of advising the private sector and State entities on all aspects, substantive and procedural, of State aid notifications and investigations. We also advise on State aid law issues as they impact on the structuring of corporate transactions, capital raising and other commercial arrangements.
Our merger control practice is widely considered pre-eminent in Ireland having advised on most of the landmark effects-based merger decisions over the past five years (and on well over 100 deals in total). In a number of complex “3 to 2” deals we have secured clearance unconditionally, had several high-profile and industry transformation deals cleared at Phase 1.
Cartels and Abuse of Dominance Issues
We act for clients in antitrust investigations by the CCPC and by the European Commission. We have unique experience in advising on immunity applications to CCPC under Irish immunity programme, including negotiation of a full immunity award with the Irish public prosecutor, the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the CCPC.
Key highlights include advising:
- Diageo Ireland on the compliance of its sales and distribution practices with Irish and EU competition law
- Doughty Hanson and TV3 management on the sale of the TV3 Group to Liberty Global and ITV plc on the sale of UTV Ireland to Liberty Global, each of which was subject to three separate regulatory approvals: the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources
- Dublin City Council in securing European Commission State aid approval for support measures for the Waste-to-Energy plant at Poolbeg, Dublin
- ESB on a range of legal issues including State aid, merger control, competition law, and general regulatory advice, including advising in relation its innovative joint venture with Vodafone, SIRO
- Irish Government on EU law issues related to IAG’s recommended cash offer for Aer Lingus
- Topaz, on its acquisition of Esso Ireland’s combined import, wholesale and retail businesses, arguably the most complex deal to have ever been examined by Irish merger control authorities