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Sub practice


The stakes for companies subject to cartels and other anti-competitive agreements continue to increase. 

The stakes for companies subject to cartels and other anticompetitive agreements continue to increase. In a number of jurisdictions cartel activity is a criminal offence and there is also a burgeoning movement to criminalise cartel activity in places where previously it was seen as wholly or principally a civil matter. We are seeing increasingly aggressive cartel enforcement everywhere in the world.

Whereas companies could previously focus their attention on U.S. and EU investigations, we are now seeing competition authorities from other important jurisdictions such as Japan, Brazil, Canada, India, South Korea and others stepping up their efforts in penalising anticompetitive behaviour. Our lawyers have played key roles in developing current U.S. and EU enforcement policies and procedures and this experience enables us to cover every aspect of complex government investigations and to provide the best immediate response to multi-dimensional enforcement actions.

We are well placed to deal with the globalisation of antitrust enforcement and its evolution to a penal or quasi-penal regime. Our team includes a former director of criminal enforcement at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and, to adequately defend companies before the EU and U.S. courts, especially on procedural grounds, highly experienced lawyers and litigators, some of whom are former judicial assistants at the European Court of Justice and professors of law at prominent universities.

We have a leading international cartel practice, advising clients on anticompetitive agreements as well as acting in high-profile international and national cartel investigations and subsequent litigation.

Although the issues in cartel cases are not sector-specific our experience spans almost every sector of the economy and our teams have broken new ground in the use of leniency programmes on a global scale.

Our work on cartel cases includes:

  • Conducting audits (including review of documents seized and interviews) on a national and/or multi- jurisdictional basis, pre or post dawn raids, to identify potential competition law issues and measure the risks incurred
  • Attending a dawn raid on premises to ensure our client's rights are preserved
  • Gathering a rapid response team (multi-jurisdictional or national) to review all documentation
  • Challenging dawn raid procedures in court
  • Preparing for potential further inspections
  • Developing defence and communication strategies
  • Assisting with preliminary consideration as to leniency/settlement
  • Advising on formal proceedings

News & insights

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Publications: 13 JANUARY 2020

The von der Leyen Commission

The European Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen took office on 1 December 2019, following changes required as a result of the European Parliament rejecting three of the candidate Commissioners originally put forward. 

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News: 09 JANUARY 2020

Global trends in private M&A 2020

We have recently produced a client presentation on global trends in private M&A. Our findings draw on an in-depth analysis of more than 1,250 private M&A deals that A&O has advised on globally over the last eight years, looking at deal dynamics, execution risks and deal terms. This has given us exceptional insight into global and regional trends in market practice.

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Publications: 30 JULY 2019

Blow to applicants in UK class actions as MasterCard wins right to appeal

The UK class action regime must take a break whilst the Supreme Court (UKSC) hears the appeal in Merricks v MasterCard concerning the proper approach to certification of a class action. Two applications for a Collective Proceedings Order (CPO) brought by organisations aiming to recover damages from truck manufacturers have already been adjourned. However the effect will also be felt by all similar CPO applicants until the law is settled by the UKSC. With the UKSC unlikely to hear the appeal in Merricks until Spring or Summer 2020, clarification of the law is unlikely until late 2020 or early 2021. This is a blow to applicants, who will be forced to sit tight until then. However, with such significant implications for the UK class-action regime – and with potentially billions at stake – it is vital that the UKSC gives a definitive ruling in Merricks.  

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Key Regulatory Topics

Publications: 23 JULY 2019

European Commission publishes guidelines to estimate passing-on in private damages actions: summary and Belgian view

The EC published guidelines for national courts to estimate the share of overcharge that is passed on.  These non-binding guidelines explain the factors impacting the existence and magnitude of passing-on effects and methods to quantify such effects.

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