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Portrait of Siobhan Kahmann

Siobhan Kahmann

Of Counsel

CMS EU Law Office
Avenue des Nerviens 85
1040 Brussels
Languages English, French

Siobhan has practised EU and UK competition law for over ten years in Brussels and the UK, in addition to counselling clients on state-aid/subsidy, regulatory - including telco reg, policy and trade matters. She is an Advocaat with the Brussels Bar, and a Solicitor in Scotland, England and Wales. Her competition experience has included: complex cartel infringement assessments, defence, and leniency applications; detailed vertical, horizontal, tech transfer and motor vehicle agreement analysis and support; substantial advice on different market inquiries; strategic and in-depth counsel for clients in abuse of dominance claims; and significant experience in matters on UK, European and international merger control. She also routinely advises on all aspects of state-aid and subsidy laws.

She has extensive experience advising on competition law in the tech industry, including IoT, big data and artificial intelligence, in addition to automotive and other transport, and on evolving sustainability and FMCG issues. Siobhan has recently spent over a year working as a senior in-house competition counsel at a global oil and gas company, where her focus included advising on new energies initiatives and electric car charging infrastructure, in addition to supporting a leading FMCG brand as its only in-house global senior competition counsel. She also specialises in different aspects of tech regulation, including telco reg, net neutrality, and autotech with broad experience in electric and autonomous vehicles. Siobhan is the Law Society of Scotland’s elected International Council Member and is an active member of its Competition Committee, Tech Committee and Trade Working Group.

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Relevant experience

  • Cartel defence: advising clients across different industries on cartel defence strategies and procedures in the EU and at national level including leniency applications, and all stages of investigations. 
  • E-commerce: engaging in comprehensive e-commerce review, training and strategy for clients in a number of different sectors and jurisdictions.
  • Agreements: providing detailed and practical legal advice and training to a diverse range of MNCs on vertical, horizontal and other complex arrangements.
  • Abuse of dominance: counselling clients on formulating abuse of dominance complaints including strategy and policy towards regulators and responses to investigations, in addition to defence approaches and official responses.
  • Compliance programmes: compiling extensive and tailored compliance programmes and training for various clients across numerous sectors and jurisdictions, including designing e-learning modules.
  • Merger control: strategically advising on and securing the clearance of a number of mergers, including but not limited to the automotive industry, at both national and European level.
  • State-aid/subsidy: providing strategic support and analysis on all types of state-aid and subsidy review and awards, and defending decisions on no award of aid.

Other Regulatory

  • Telco Reg: providing wide-ranging telco reg advice from both a UK and EU perspective, including electronic communications services rules and regulations, and relevant restrictions, obligations and opportunities applicable across the various frameworks and evolving service categories/aspects
  • Net Neutrality: advising on pan-European net-neutrality issues, with a focus on zero-rating.
  • EV: counselling clients in the evolving electric/autonomous vehicle and energy industry on a range of competition and regulatory issues, state-aid/subsidy and policy support.
  • Regulatory: providing legal support and analysis across a wide-range of EU regulatory and competition issues including sustainability, energy, emissions, CRS, free movement and environmental frameworks.
  • Trade: preparing trade submissions for a variety of different EU and WTO procedures.
  • Policy: supporting and enabling clients’ successful engagement on policy issues with the EU institutions.
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Memberships & Roles

  • Advocaat, Brussels Bar (Dutch)
  • Solicitor and Notary Public, Law Society of Scotland
  • Solicitor, Law Society of England and Wales
  • Writer of the Signet to her Majesty the Queen (WS)
  • Elected Council Member (International), Law Society of Scotland
  • Committee Member, Competition, Tech Law, and International Trade Committees, with the Law Society of Scotland
  • Observer Member in the EU Law Committee, Member of the Competition Section, Law Society of England and Wales
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Siobhan is a regular contributor and presenter on a range of legal developments including competition law, e-commerce, big data, net neutrality, technology law, and electric and autonomous vehicles. She has also written and presented extensively on Brexit, including on competition law, and lawyers’ practising rights.

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  • LL.B Honours, University of Aberdeen
  • LL.M, EU Competition and Business Law, Universiteit van Amsterdam
  • DLP, University of Edinburgh 
  • QLTT English Law, College of Law
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New UK sub­sidy con­trol re­gime re­vealed
The UK Gov­ern­ment has today in­tro­duced the Sub­sidy Con­trol Bill to Par­lia­ment, kick start­ing the form­al pro­cess of im­ple­ment­ing the UK’s do­mest­ic re­gime on sub­sidy con­trol fol­low­ing de­par­ture from the...
European Com­mis­sion’s IoT Sec­tor In­quiry: Pre­lim­in­ary Re­port pub­lished,...
On 9 June 2021, the European Com­mis­sion pub­lished its Pre­lim­in­ary Re­port on the con­sumer In­ter­net of Things (the “IoT”) Sec­tor In­quiry which it launched last sum­mer (see press re­lease here and Q&As...
CMA EV Mar­ket Study: no Mar­ket In­vest­ig­a­tion Ref­er­ence but fu­ture rem­ed­ies...
On 26 May 2021, the Com­pet­i­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (the “CMA”) pub­lished a second pro­gress up­date in the elec­tric vehicle (“EV”) char­ging mar­ket study and no­tice of its de­cision not to make...
Sus­tain­ab­il­ity and Com­pet­i­tion Law
Over the last year, there has been in­creased in­terest and ap­pet­ite from dif­fer­ent mar­ket play­ers and com­pet­i­tion reg­u­lat­ors in the in­ter­ac­tion between sus­tain­ab­il­ity and com­pet­i­tion law. This has led to the de­vel­op­ment of com­ment­ary from dif­fer­ent sources, and guid­ance pa­pers from some of the more pro-act­ive reg­u­lat­ors. The move­ment is linked to the EU’s strong com­mit­ment to sus­tain­ab­il­ity and to be­com­ing the first cli­mate-neut­ral con­tin­ent in the world through the Com­mis­sion’s am­bi­tious European Green Deal. A num­ber of re­cur­ring ques­tions are gain­ing at­ten­tion in re­la­tion to calls for com­pet­i­tion laws to sup­port sus­tain­ab­il­ity ini­ti­at­ives. On the one hand, some play­ers pro­pose that com­pet­i­tion law holds back sus­tain­ab­il­ity col­lab­or­a­tion ini­ti­at­ives. On the oth­er hand, some reg­u­lat­ors have also high­lighted that they have not been ap­proached with con­crete sus­tain­ab­il­ity col­lab­or­a­tion is­sues or pro­pos­als by in­dustry. A con­cern raised by reg­u­lat­ors is wheth­er un­der­tak­ings would really be more eco-friendly if com­pet­i­tion rules were re­laxed, or if leav­ing "green" de­vel­op­ments to the devices of a more com­pet­it­ive mar­ket would lead to green­er res­ults in prac­tice.A cent­ral ques­tion is how to meas­ure any per­ceived "ef­fi­cien­cies" versus anti-com­pet­it­ive ef­fects. An­oth­er is wheth­er there is really any need to es­tab­lish a "safe har­bour" for "sus­tain­able" col­lab­or­at­ive ar­range­ments. Tra­di­tion­ally, com­pet­i­tion law rules on col­lab­or­a­tion look at the ef­fects on the con­sumer in the rel­ev­ant mar­ket (i.e. the con­sumer who pur­chased the product). This is to as­sess wheth­er they have been fully com­pensated. However, sus­tain­ab­il­ity be­ne­fits are more likely to trans­late in­to a com­bin­a­tion of some dir­ect be­ne­fit to the in­di­vidu­al con­sumer, with oth­er be­ne­fits be­ing en­joyed by the wider so­ci­ety at large, or even by the fu­ture wider so­ci­ety at large. As­pects of sus­tain­ab­il­ity ar­gu­ments in re­la­tion to mer­ger con­trol and state aid are also gain­ing in­creased at­ten­tion.It is there­fore a good time to take stock of where we are with the dif­fer­ent ini­ti­at­ives and de­vel­op­ments across Europe so far: European Uni­on The Com­mis­sion’s DG Com­pet­i­tion re­cently looked more closely in­to sus­tain­ab­il­ity and com­pet­i­tion law. It is spe­cific­ally re­cog­nised by EVP Vestager that as part of the European Green Deal "All of Europe’s policies – in­clud­ing com­pet­i­tion policy – will have their role to play to get us there". EU Com­pet­i­tion policy already sup­ports the Green Deal ob­ject­ives, but it has been re­cog­nised that as Europe’s am­bi­tions shift "in­to a high­er gear, we need to see if com­pet­i­tion policy could do more". Ac­cord­ingly, a num­ber of con­sulta­tions on ex­ist­ing com­pet­i­tion le­gis­la­tion were launched over the last year, in­volving po­ten­tial sus­tain­ab­il­ity as­pects. These in­cluded the re­vi­sion of the frame­work for both ho­ri­zont­al and ver­tic­al agree­ments, and the re­vi­sion of state aid rules.Re­cently, DG Comp also act­ively ad­dressed the top­ic of sus­tain­ab­il­ity as a sub­ject in its own right. To this end, it launched a de­tailed con­sulta­tion in the second half of 2020, en­titled "Com­pet­i­tion Policy Sup­port­ing the Green Deal", and en­cour­aged all in­ter­ested stake­hold­ers to con­trib­ute. This ini­ti­at­ive provided an in­sight­ful set of ques­tions look­ing for views on state aid, an­ti­com­pet­it­ive agree­ments and mer­ger con­trol (while ex­clud­ing ab­use of dom­in­ance). It pub­lished the 189 con­sulta­tion re­sponses re­ceived in Janu­ary 2021.DG Comp also hos­ted a half-day pub­lic we­bin­ar on the sub­ject of Com­pet­i­tion policy and the Green Deal in Feb­ru­ary 2021. This dis­cussed a vari­ety of is­sues in­clud­ing an open­ing ad­dress by EVP Vestager and a key­note speech by EVP Tim­mer­mans. It also hos­ted a num­ber of dif­fer­ent pan­els look­ing at polit­ic­al am­bi­tion; in­nov­a­tion, green growth and the com­pet­i­tion rules; and what the cur­rent an­ti­trust, mer­ger con­trol, and state aid rules do de­liv­er, and what they don’t. An un­der­tak­ing was made for the three next im­port­ant fol­low up steps in DG Comp’s sus­tain­ab­il­ity jour­ney. The first is a pub­lic re­port on the in­put from the sus­tain­ab­il­ity con­sulta­tion pro­cess and de­bate, prom­ised be­fore the sum­mer of 2021. The second is to feed in­to the on­go­ing le­gis­lat­ive re­views. Last but not least, the third is the op­por­tun­ity to re­quest sus­tain­ab­il­ity guid­ance through guid­ance let­ters, or Art­icle 10 (Reg 1/2003) de­cisions. At the mo­ment, ma­jor changes to the EU leg­al frame­work seem un­likely. In his clos­ing re­marks for the we­bin­ar, Head of DG Com­pet­i­tion Olivi­er Guersent hin­ted at green ad­just­ments and cla­ri­fic­a­tions to re­flect sus­tain­ab­il­ity ob­ject­ives, rather than a re­lax­a­tion of com­pet­i­tion rules. Cla­ri­fic­a­tions will es­pe­cially con­cern co-op­er­a­tion and in­form­a­tion shar­ing. It is clear that we are not yet at the stage of com­mit­ted spe­cif­ic EU guidelines on sus­tain­ab­il­ity, and that there is still an im­port­ant choice to be made in the path to take. However, DG Comp has clearly il­lus­trated its ser­i­ous­ness and com­mit­ment to un­der­tak­ing a de­tailed and thor­ough eval­u­ation of how to pro­ceed. Neth­er­lands The road to sus­tain­ab­il­ity is paved with good in­ten­tions in the Neth­er­lands. In the re­cent past, the Dutch Au­thor­ity for Con­sumers and Mar­kets ("ACM") had been ac­cused of block­ing sus­tain­ab­il­ity ini­ti­at­ives due to an old-fash­ioned and overly ri­gid ap­proach to com­pet­i­tion law. It had not­ably con­sidered that the car­tel pro­hib­i­tion pre­ven­ted cross-sec­tor co­oper­a­tion re­gard­ing the selling of chick­en meat pro­duced un­der en­hanced an­im­al wel­fare-friendly con­di­tions (Chick­en of To­mor­row) and pre­ven­ted col­lab­or­a­tion in clos­ing down pol­lut­ing coal power plants. This ex­per­i­ence might have in­duced the Dutch com­pet­i­tion au­thor­ity to play an in­nov­at­ive role in the European de­bate on sus­tain­ab­il­ity and com­pet­i­tion law.In the sum­mer of 2020, the ACM launched a con­sulta­tion for re­vised guidelines on sus­tain­ab­il­ity, in­ten­ded to re­place its 2014 Vis­ion doc­u­ment on Com­pet­i­tion and Sus­tain­ab­il­ity. This was quickly fol­lowed by an­oth­er con­sulta­tion on guidelines for (mis­lead­ing) sus­tain­ab­il­ity claims. Ad­di­tion­ally, in Septem­ber 2020, it pub­lished a study that "Today's chick­en" is bet­ter off and its meat more sus­tain­able, even without cross-sec­tor col­lab­or­a­tion agree­ments. The ACM’s draft guidelines on sus­tain­ab­il­ity were per­ceived as bold and drew re­ac­tions, in­clud­ing from the European Com­mis­sion. On 26 Janu­ary 2021, a second draft of the ACM’s re­vised guidelines on sus­tain­ab­il­ity was pub­lished "ready for fur­ther dis­cus­sions in Europe". ACM an­nounced that dur­ing the dis­cus­sions it would not fine com­pan­ies that fol­lowed these draft guidelines in good faith.In the fi­nal draft, the ACM makes a clear­er dis­tinc­tion between "en­vir­on­ment­al-dam­age" agree­ments and oth­er "sus­tain­ab­il­ity" agree­ments. En­vir­on­ment­al-dam­age agree­ments con­cern the re­duc­tion of dam­age to so­ci­ety (not in­cluded in the price of pro­duc­tion) and more ef­fi­cient use of scarce nat­ur­al re­sources. This in­cludes en­vir­on­ment­al as­pects like glob­al warm­ing and re­duced biod­iversity. Sus­tain­ab­il­ity agree­ments are defined in the draft re­vised guidelines as be­ing aimed at the iden­ti­fic­a­tion, pre­ven­tion, re­stric­tion or mit­ig­a­tion of the neg­at­ive im­pact of eco­nom­ic activ­it­ies on people, an­im­als, the en­vir­on­ment, or nature. One of the most in­ter­est­ing con­cepts from a com­pet­i­tion law per­spect­ive is the ACM's point of view that a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pret­a­tion can be ap­plied to the nor­mal "ef­fi­ciency claim" that users should be al­lowed a fair share of the be­ne­fits of an agree­ment. In con­trast, the ACM states that it should be pos­sible to con­sider the be­ne­fits of parties oth­er than dir­ect users, such as the great­er pub­lic (e.g. in re­la­tion to the re­duc­tion of CO2-emis­sions). Wheth­er the fi­nal draft guidelines on sus­tain­ab­il­ity will re­ceive full sup­port from the European Com­mis­sion is still to be seen. Mean­while, the ACM's guidelines for (mis­lead­ing) sus­tain­ab­il­ity claims was launched sep­ar­ately on 28 Janu­ary 2021 and will serve as basis for en­force­ment by the ACM's con­sumer rights de­part­ment. United King­dom In the UK, the Com­pet­i­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity ("CMA") has re­tained "cli­mate change and sup­port­ing the trans­ition to a low car­bon eco­nomy" as one of its pri­or­it­ies for 2021/2022. However, the steps taken by the CMA to date have been lim­ited. One area of fo­cus has been con­sumer pro­tec­tion – the launch­ing of a new pro­gramme of work at the end of 2020 to ex­am­ine mis­lead­ing en­vir­on­ment­al claims. The CMA has also launched a mar­ket study in­to elec­tric vehicle char­ging, which will con­clude by the end of 2021. The CMA has been one of the few com­pet­i­tion au­thor­it­ies to pub­lish ded­ic­ated guid­ance on en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity agree­ments and com­pet­i­tion law. However, this guid­ance only sum­mar­ises the ex­ist­ing rules for self-as­sess­ing com­pli­ance with com­pet­i­tion law, and does not at­tempt to tackle some of the more chal­len­ging ques­tions in this area. The CMA has ac­know­ledged that this guid­ance is an "in­ter­im step", which sug­gests it will likely take fur­ther steps in this area.In its re­cently up­dated Mer­ger As­sess­ment Guidelines, the CMA has in­cluded en­vir­on­ment­al sus­tain­ab­il­ity as a re­cog­nised pos­sible rel­ev­ant "cus­tom­er be­ne­fit" (in­clud­ing to fu­ture cus­tom­ers) to be taken in­to ac­count in the as­sess­ment of a mer­ger. This is an in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment, and one of the first "nods" to­wards sus­tain­ab­il­ity mer­ger ar­gu­ments by com­pet­i­tion reg­u­lat­ors. The CMA con­firmed that it is able to take in­to ac­count a broad­er range of ef­fi­cien­cies and be­ne­fits from a mer­ger as they ap­ply to con­sumers and so­ci­ety more gen­er­ally, in­clud­ing wheth­er a mer­ger may lead to a lower car­bon foot­print for the firm’s products. Con­clu­sion Policy op­tions on the ap­plic­a­tion of com­pet­i­tion laws to sus­tain­ab­il­ity agree­ments are still open, with some na­tion­al au­thor­it­ies (i.e. the Dutch ACM, but also the Greek HCC com­pet­i­tion reg­u­lat­or) lead­ing the way or at least giv­ing the busi­ness and leg­al com­munity (sus­tain­able) food for thought.As policy-mak­ing is in­creas­ingly sup­por­ted at both the EU and na­tion­al level by pub­lic con­sulta­tions, there will be many op­por­tun­it­ies for mar­ket play­ers to voice their ideas or con­cerns about this fu­ture-fa­cing is­sue. Do not miss the chance to let your voice be heard!
CMA an­nounces mar­ket study in­to UK elec­tric vehicle char­ging
Earli­er today, the 2nd Decem­ber 2020, the CMA launched a mar­ket study in­to the UK elec­tric vehicle (EV) char­ging mar­ket. This fol­lows in­creased in­terest and sup­port in the UK for the sec­tor, in­clud­ing...