Anti-competitive behaviour is an increasingly global phenomenon; it is now common for multiple enforcement agencies to pursue many companies across several continents. The cases are bigger, the steps taken to conceal the activities ever more creative, and many more businesses are affected by the actions of the cartel members.
Fines alone are not seen by enforcement agencies as a sufficient deterrent. As a result, steps are being taken to make it easier for those who have suffered loss to bring private damages actions. The UK is one of the preferred places to bring such an action; with the development of funding mechanisms, which minimise the costs of bringing a claim, finances are no longer a barrier to justice. This is great news for those suffering a loss and a serious concern for businesses facing an investigation and the prospect of fines and damages claims.
Never has there been a greater need for businesses to ensure their compliance procedures are robust and for Boards and Directors to understand their duties. If an investigation looms, the Board needs to know what will happen and how to respond, both as regards the business and key individuals. If a further incentive to take compliance seriously is required, there is criminal liability for senior executives in the UK and the possibility of Director Disqualification.
Why we are different
Our competition practice advises claimants and defendants, individuals and institutions, on all aspects of competition law. We handle both Civil and Criminal investigations by the regulators and our low levels of conflict enable us to act for parties across all sectors. We are experts in managing investigations across a number of jurisdictions; choosing and dealing with overseas professionals on behalf of, and as the contact for, our clients.
We treat a client's claim as an asset to be recovered. We use experienced economists, forensic accountants and financial analysts to investigate our client's claim and provide comprehensive risk assessments.
We have strong relationships with litigation funders and insurers who best understand the nature of these actions. Working together, we are able to help our clients secure packages that minimise their financial exposure.
The competition practice is bolstered by our 80 strong fraud and complex litigation department, which focuses on asset recovery and is renowned for its ability to convert claims into a swift financial outcome. This gives us an edge in competition disputes and other commercial disputes where competition law may be an issue.
Our defence lawyers specialise in risk management. They advise businesses caught up in investigations into alleged competition law breaches, as well as individuals facing potential criminal sanctions or Director Disqualification. Our detailed understanding of the processes, coupled with our knowledge of the enforcement agencies, enables us to advise Boards and individuals on how best to respond in any given situation.
We are not solely a crisis team. We work with our corporate clients to devise pro-active risk management strategies and compliance procedures, testing their effectiveness through the use of "mock" dawn raids and business audits. A good compliance procedure manages risk but does not stifle growth and innovation. Our lawyers understand this dynamic and take the time to establish what is best for each organisation.
Mergers and markets
We work with our corporate department to provide transactional competition law advice, including advice on the merger process, the use of tactical complaints, and applications for merger clearances where required. When market inquiries are launched, we assist key parties to ensure all submissions are effective and targeted, mitigating the risk of problematic outcomes.
We assist our real estate team providing advice on restrictive covenants and state aid disputes.
In the arena of public contracts we advise aggrieved bidders wishing to challenge the outcome of procurement processes and procuring authorities in relation to their processes and challenges.