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Sub practice
Sub practice

Antitrust Disputes

Our team of highly experienced antitrust litigators combines technical expertise with strategic advice to pursue or defend claims on behalf of our clients before regulators and courts across Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere around the globe.

Allen & Overy’s antitrust litigation team: 

  • Advises on all types of disputes and represent companies under investigation by European, U.S. and national competition authorities in cases concerning breaches of competition law. 
  • Coordinates multi-jurisdictional litigation strategies and responses, often being called in at the pre-litigation stage.
  • Helps companies develop sound risk management strategies and compliance policies, and conduct in-depth audits, along with crisis management, litigation risk and exposure assessments.

Our team includes many of the leading practitioners in the field, including a former director of criminal enforcement at the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, former judicial assistants at the ECJ, and professors of law at prominent universities. We have played a key role in developing the European Commission's leniency protocols and its approach to accessing documents and witness interviews.

Private damages actions

Findings of cartel, abuse of dominance, and monopolisation are frequently followed by private actions seeking damages. Private class actions are a mainstay of the competitive landscape in the U.S. and increasingly important in Europe, requiring clients to wield both the sword and shield to protect their rightful place in the market. We are frequently asked to advise on identifying the courts and tribunals in which actions may be brought and assess our clients' exposure to such actions, while considering how best to challenge such claims, obtain interim relief or avoid litigation, including through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

We are currently acting on a number of follow-on antitrust damages cases as well as cases at the intersection of antitrust and IP litigation. In Europe, we have a very active antitrust litigation practice that handles private enforcement cases before the commercial courts and matters before the relevant national competition authority, the EU Commission and other regulatory bodies. In the U.S. we have defended clients in a number of complex civil enforcement and private damages actions, including simultaneous suits brought in federal and state courts. 

Commercial antitrust disputes

Antitrust issues are regularly invoked in negotiations and litigation between rival companies or between companies and their suppliers. Competitors, suppliers or customers may try to use antitrust law to nullify a contract, or alternatively to defend an alleged breach of contract. In recent years we have also seen an increasing number of major cases on licensing and IP (particularly relating to patents) in which antitrust issues play a pivotal role.

We can use our combined expertise in antitrust and litigation to assist companies seeking to use antitrust issues as either a weapon or a defence in commercial disputes. In addition, private actions between international companies increasingly take place in multiple jurisdictions at the same time. In such complex cases, a global strategy is required to enhance efficiency and consistency and also to reduce the costs involved. We offer our clients a significant and competitive advantage in this area by combining the efficiency of our global presence with the perspective of local experience and expertise.

Judicial review

We have significant experience coordinating challenges to decisions by regulatory authorities at both EU and national level. Our team of antitrust litigation experts have acted in high-profile cases in recent years and are experienced in pleading before the ECJ, General Court in Luxembourg and national courts, including the High Court in England. Our team includes former référendaires at both EU and national courts. In particular, our team has significant experience in representing clients (whether merging parties or third-party challengers) regarding merger decisions made by both the European Commission and the UK competition authorities. We have also represented companies on half of all the cases challenging merger decisions before the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal, including Lloyds/HBOS and BSkyB/ITV. 

News & insights

News: 09 JANUARY 2020

Global trends in private M&A

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: 24 OCTOBER 2019

An examination of global class action regimes after Godfrey

On September 20, 2019, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) issued a landmark antitrust class action decision in Pioneer Corp. v Godfrey which clarified several procedural questions relating to class actions. 

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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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