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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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    Competition 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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    July 2019
    CMS Com­pet­i­tion Con­tact Card
    18/07/2019
    SFO’s fifth DPA in­tro­duces in­nov­a­tion of par­ent com­pany un­der­tak­ings...
    On 4 Ju­ly 2019, a de­ferred pro­sec­u­tion agree­ment (“DPA”) between the Ser­i­ous Fraud Of­fice (“SFO”) and Serco Geo­grafix Lim­ited (“SGL”), a wholly owned sub­si­di­ary with­in the Serco Group was ap­proved at South­wark Crown Court by Mr Justice Wil­li­am Dav­is.
    14 June 2019
    CMS ad­vises Gamesys on its £490 mil­lion stra­tegic com­bin­a­tion...
    04/07/2019
    CMA an­nounces mar­ket study in­to on­line plat­forms and di­git­al ad­vert­ising 
    On 3 Ju­ly 2019, the CMA launched a mar­ket study in­to on­line plat­forms and di­git­al ad­vert­ising. This fol­lows re­peated calls from vari­ous com­mit­tees and re­views for the CMA to scru­tin­ise the sec­tor, giv­en its wider im­plic­a­tions for the di­git­al eco­nomy, in­clud­ing.
    12 January 2018
    CMS ad­vises on sale of on­line casino busi­ness to Swedish...
    14/06/2019
    The EUIPO de­liv­ers its ver­dict on the long­stand­ing dis­pute between...
    EUTM Can­cel­la­tion Ac­tion: (1) Pro­mote Ice­land, (2) The Iceland­ic Min­istry for For­eign Af­fairs and (3) SA – Busi­ness Ice­land v. Ice­land Foods Lim­ited. Back­ground Three Iceland­ic au­thor­it­ies (“Iceland­ic Ap­plic­ants”) filed an ap­plic­a­tion for a de­clar­a­tion of in­valid­ity.
    1 May 2017
    CMS, Nabarro and Olswang com­plete largest ever mer­ger...
    Cre­at­ing a new fu­ture-fa­cing firm
    06/06/2019
    The Bribery Act 2010 in Scot­land: where are we now?
    De­scribed earli­er this year by the House of Lords Se­lect Com­mit­tee as hav­ing cre­ated “an in­ter­na­tion­al gold stand­ard for anti-bribery and cor­rup­tion le­gis­la­tion”, the com­ing month will mark the eight year an­niversary of the Bribery Act 2010 com­ing in­to force.
    13 December 2016
    CMS, Nabarro and Olswang con­firm Prac­tice and Sec­tor...
    28/05/2019
    Busi­nesses face stricter com­pli­ance and harsh­er pen­al­ties un­der the...
    The Home Of­fice com­mis­sioned Rt Hon Frank Field MP, Bar­on­ess Eliza­beth But­ler-Sloss and Maria Miller MP to re­view the op­er­a­tion and ef­fect­ive­ness of the Mod­ern Slavery Act 2015 (the “Act”) and to re­com­mend im­prove­ments.
    10 October 2016
    CMS, Nabarro and Olswang com­bine to cre­ate 6th largest...
    27/05/2019
    AB In­Bev hit with a EUR 200 m fine for re­strict­ing cross-bor­der sales
    On 13 May 2019, the European Com­mis­sion fined AB In­Bev EUR 200 mil­lion for ab­us­ing its dom­in­ant po­s­i­tion on the beer mar­ket by re­strict­ing cross-bor­der sales of its products. As an ex­ample of the Com­mis­sion's new policy of le­ni­ency in ver­tic­al non-car­tel cases,.