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Trade & Competition Law

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Competition law is both a key risk area for businesses who face increasing enforcement by regulators and litigation globally, and an opportunity to protect a market position from over-powerful competitors, customers and suppliers. We deliver clear guidance and reliable judgement, grounded in years of experience, across all competition law matters, including anticompetitive agreements (such as cartels), market power abuses, merger control, public procurement, and State aid.

How we can help

We have a market leading reputation for providing expert advice.

Our specialists have experience dealing with the European Commission and national competition authorities such as the UK Competition and Markets Authority, the German Bundeskartellamt, and the Polish Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, as well as actions before European courts and beyond.

What sets us apart is our commitment to support our clients' commercial strategy with practical and cost-efficient antitrust advice. With a strong team of highly experienced lawyers based across Europe, our EU / Competition team delivers clear, partner-led guidance, delivered in a characteristically approachable way.

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Competition investigations and disputes

 
Competition investigations and disputes

Articles 101 and 102 of the EU Treaty (and their equivalent national rules) prohibit both anti-competitive agreements and concerted practices as well as the abuse of a dominant position. If found guilty of such anti-competitive behaviour companies face fines of up to 10% of their worldwide turnover plus unlimited actions for damages that their trading partners may bring in national courts. In addition, the laws of several EU Member States provide for director disqualifications and criminal liability against individuals for the worst offences thereby increasing the stakes for the non-compliant actor.

DWF offers a full client service in all the above aspects of competition law across national jurisdictions and at the EU level. This includes advice on the existence of cartels, abuse of dominance, litigation actions (including damages), leniency programmes, individual personal liability questions, antitrust audits, compliance programmes and dawn raid management. We act for clients in investigations (individual or sectoral) by the EU and national authorities and represent complainants and defendants in proceedings before national and EU courts and in arbitration involving EU and national competition law.

Commercial agreements

 
Commercial agreements
We advise on how competition law interacts with commercial agreements. This includes advice on day-to-day business conduct. We provide pragmatic and focused counsel to manage any competition law risk, in particular in relation to distribution and supply arrangements, online sales, exclusivity arrangements and co-operation agreements of all kinds. Such advice often depends very much on the markets concerned and the market power of the parties (including possible questions of dominance). Our advice is tailored to take this into account in order to deliver optimal risk / result outcomes.

Merger Control

 
Merger Control

Mergers and acquisitions may trigger antitrust merger filing requirements in one or more national jurisdictions such as to the European Commission via the EU Merger Control Regulation if the companies concerned exceed particular turnover thresholds. Failure to notify can lead to a variety of investigations, fines, and even divestment orders. It is, therefore, critical to get this aspect of a transaction right from the beginning.

DWF guides clients through the relevant merger control processes by advising in relation to and notifying qualifying mergers to, the relevant authorities so as to obtain all required approvals. This service provides a "one stop shop" to our corporate and investment clients. DWF combines its expertise of national merger control laws with its EU experience to provide clients with the complete package to suit every transaction, irrespective of its size.

State Aid

 
State Aid

We have a leading state aid practice with extensive experience in all aspects of State aid. This includes advising applicants, Central Government and Local Government on State aid compliance, including on high profile and novel notifications to the European Commission. We have an excellent reputation in defending projects from audits and investigations, including making representations in front of European Courts, DG COMP and the European Court of Auditors. We provide clear, pragmatic advice which works within State aid law to achieve our clients' objectives. Our team is also experienced in advising on all aspects of public procurement working alongside this, including ensuring compliance and defending or bringing challenges.

Vertical Agreements

 
Vertical Agreements

We advise on how competition law interacts with commercial agreements. This includes day-to-day advice on business conduct. We provide pragmatic and focused advice and drafting to manage any competition law risk, in particular in relation to supply arrangements, online sales, exclusivity arrangements and distribution models of all kinds. Such advice often depends very much on the markets concerned and the market power of the parties (including possible questions of dominance) and our advice is tailored to take this into account to deliver optimal risk /result outcomes.

Brexit Hub

 
Brexit Hub

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