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Competition

United Kingdom

Competition law risk is increasingly a board level issue. All businesses need to focus on its impact on their activities.

Mergers require strategic thought up front, as to structuring and substantive competition risk. Pricing and distribution strategies need to be attuned to potential allegations of dominance. Cartel risk needs to be identified and assessed quickly, but accurately. Practical, and sometimes innovative, solutions need to be found in a fast-moving commercial context.

Our team of competition lawyers has extensive experience in helping to navigate these difficult paths so that clients can keep their focus on their business. We have in-depth knowledge of how the competition rules apply in practice across different markets. Our sector focus helps us understand your business environment and get to grips with your issues.

We can help you devise your business strategies to address these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities they offer. We also have hands-on experience of dealing with the competition authorities and courts, and we work with our CMS network of specialist competition lawyers across the EU and beyond. We're experienced in acting on high-profile competition and dawn raid investigations before the UK and EU competition authorities, and we also deal with sector regulators including ORR, Ofgem, and Ofcom. We regularly advise on day-to-day competition issues including commercial agreements and practices, compliance programmes and provide competition law training and audits.

The CMS Competition Practice Group has more than 150 competition lawyers, making it one of the largest competition teams within Europe. Our experts provide you with tailor-made advice on competition issues at both the European Union (EU) and national levels. The competition lawyers spread across the CMS offices are supported by the CMS EU Law Office in Brussels.

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    Investigations & Raids

    With the increase in businesses operating across borders we understand the need to spot potential competition law issues at an early stage. Increasing media prominence is given to competition law infringements, and the level of financial penalties is rising. An unexpected visit from the European Commission or the Competition and Markets Authority, or the launch of a market review or investigation can be a difficult and time-consuming experience.

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    Merger Control

    Merger control is a vitally important element of many transactions. The early identification of where a transaction needs to be notified, and the incorporation of the most appropriate merger control strategy within the deal approach, is essential to its success. If merger control is neglected, the transaction may not proceed, may need to be undone or may not realise its full potential. Our expertise in obtaining merger clearances in the UK, before the European Commission and across the world will smooth the complexities of making your deal happen and help to avoid any nasty surprises. Our primary objective is to ensure that merger control is dealt with efficiently and puts you in the strongest position.

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    Sanctions & Export Controls

    Sanctions and export controls are now a key risk for companies engaged in international trade. The risk of corporate fines and personal criminal liability, combined with constantly changing regimes reflecting changing political developments makes it a high-risk yet complex area of legal compliance.

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    State Aid

    State aid law plays a crucial role in the functioning of markets, ensuring a level playing field. Its importance has been brought into sharp relief in the latest global financial crisis.

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    Law-Now: Com­pet­i­tion
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    15/10/2018
    European Com­mis­sion charges Slov­ak rail com­pany with dawn raid ob­struc­tion
    On 25 Septem­ber 2018, the European Com­mis­sion sent a State­ment of Ob­jec­tions to ZSSK, a Slov­ak rail com­pany, al­leging that it had ob­struc­ted a dawn raid by giv­ing in­cor­rect in­form­a­tion and de­let­ing data from a laptop.
    03/09/2018
    The Com­mis­sion de­cides that tax on ad­mis­sion fees in Greek casi­nos...
    The European Com­mis­sion has con­cluded that a sys­tem of levies on State-set ad­mis­sion fees at Greek casi­nos does not con­sti­tute EU State aid. The Com­mis­sion had ini­tially taken is­sue with the meas­ures and de­cided, after an in-depth State aid in­vest­ig­a­tion con­cluded.
    30/07/2018
    EC: Ef­fects of pri­cing al­gorithms in the con­text of re­sale price main­ten­ance
    On 24 Ju­ly 2018, the European Com­mis­sion ("Com­mis­sion") im­posed fines on four elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ers for fix­ing the prices of their on­line re­tail­ers. In as­sess­ing the im­pact of re­sale price main­ten­ance, the Com­mis­sion also fo­cused on the use of pri­cing al­gorithms.
    19/07/2018
    Se­lect­ive dis­tri­bu­tion: Frank­furt court con­firms the leg­al­ity of third-party...
    On 12 Ju­ly 2018, the High­er Re­gion­al Court of Frank­furt ruled on the ap­peal pro­ced­ure in the Coty case (No. 11 U 96/14 Kart) and de­cided that the third-party plat­form ban agreed by the lux­ury cos­met­ics man­u­fac­turer Coty in its se­lect­ive dis­tri­bu­tion agree­ment.
    13/06/2018
    Com­pet­i­tion law and al­gorithms: the Lux­em­bourg Com­pet­i­tion Coun­cil...
    Al­gorithms is the hot top­ic in com­pet­i­tion law. In June 2017, the OECD pub­lished a pa­per on the risk of col­lu­sion in the use of al­gorithms. This is­sue has been reg­u­larly ad­dressed by Com­mis­sion­er Vestager in her speeches.
    12/06/2018
    Ham­burg court ex­tends ECJ's rul­ing on third-party plat­form ban to...
    On 22 March 2018, the Hanseat­ic High­er Re­gion­al Court in Ham­burg ruled that a sup­pli­er of food sup­ple­ments and vari­ous toi­letries may pro­hib­it dis­trib­ut­ors from selling its goods over cer­tain on­line sales sites known as third-party plat­forms.
    01/06/2018
    No gun jump­ing in EY case says ECJ
    The Court of Justice of the EU has ruled that Ernst & Young (“EY”) did not jump the gun in the takeover of KP­MG’s Dan­ish unit. In its May 31 rul­ing, the Court of Justice re­af­firmed an earli­er Opin­ion by Ad­voc­ate Gen­er­al Nils Wahl, which could im­pact how “gun.