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Practices

 

Sector regulation, monopolisation and market investigations

Companies increasingly face the risk that their industry will be subject to antitrust scrutiny, with potentially far-reaching consequences.

Companies with strong market positions may also be subject to individual investigations, which could affect the operation of the business and lead to severe sanctions.

Sector/market regulation is an increasingly important means for authorities to regulate competition and enforce antitrust rules. Companies increasingly face the risk that their industry as a whole will be closely scrutinised. This could result from a wide-ranging sector inquiry by the European Commission, or a market or regulatory investigation at national level carried out by a competition agency or sector regulator (or both). We have advised in relation to a number of market studies and market investigations carried out by the European Commission and national competition authorities.

Recent inquiries have spanned a broad range of industries: pharmaceuticals, financial services, telecommunications, building materials, insurance and pay-TV. In the past year, the European competition authorities have initiated some high-profile investigations in the technology sector at the intersection between competition laws and IP rights. Our team has been involved in many of these cases, and can advise on:

  • strategy for dealing with authorities, who will expect (and often compel) industry players to provide detailed commercial information
  • preparing submissions, briefing papers, and responses to information requests
  • negotiating commitments to address authorities' concerns

Within a particular sector, companies with strong market positions must carefully consider the impact of their conduct. Any abuse of a monopoly or dominant position can carry severe penalties which may reach hundreds of millions of euros or dollars. It is also an issue high on many antitrust authorities' enforcement priorities, as seen by the recent investigation into Google which has attracted attention of agencies around the globe. We have a strong record of helping companies to navigate this complex area, acting for both complainants and companies under investigation.

Specific sector regulators may be consulted on, or even in some countries lead, antitrust investigations. Complex networks of regulation may apply across jurisdictions. Our team has expertise in dealing with sector regulators and has wide experience of advising on cases involving parallel antitrust and regulatory review processes. We guide companies through the regimes involved, helping to develop coordinated responses and strategies.

Recognition for our work

"Sometimes firms are afraid of telling the real story to their clients, but Allen & Overy will be very candid with its views and provide a real assessment and analysis." Chambers and Partners Europe 2013

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