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Sub practice

Sector regulation, monopolisation and market investigations

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.

News & insights

Publications: 02 JUNE 2020

The General Court annuls the European Commission’s prohibition of the Three/O2 merger – a reset for EU merger control?

On 28 May 2020, the EU’s General Court upheld CK Hutchison’s appeal against the European Commission (Commission)’s May 2016 prohibition of its proposed acquisition of Telefónica UK, which would have…

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Antitrust in focus

Publications: 01 JUNE 2020

Antitrust in focus - May 2020

This newsletter is our take on the antitrust developments we think are most interesting to your business. Jürgen Schindler, partner based in Brussels and Hamburg, is our editor for this edition. He…

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Publications: 13 FEBRUARY 2020

China’s antitrust law under review – increased clarity, but more uncertainty

China offered a glimpse of what its antitrust regime may look like in the future by issuing few proposed amendments to the Anti-Monopoly Law for consultation in January 2020.

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building frame

Publications: 16 JULY 2019

Beyond Leniency: DOJ Antitrust Announces New Approach For Crediting Corporate Compliance Programs

Recent announcements from senior Antitrust Division officials have brought about sweeping policy changes that are likely to displace the corporate leniency program as the only potential benefit of…

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Recognition