Competition and Regulated Markets

The Practice

Arthur Cox’s highly regarded Competition and Regulated Markets Group’s core practice areas are European and Irish competition law, merger control law, antitrust law, compliance and regulation, European State Aid law and regulatory law. The Group continues to be involved in the most high-profile competition law and merger control cases arising in Ireland.

We have been involved in a large proportion of the cases in which the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) (formerly the Competition Authority) has undertaken a Phase II investigation to date, and have acted in a number of ground-breaking cases, such as the first referral of a case from the European Commission to the Irish Competition Authority (Heineken/Scottish & Newcastle), the first appeal of an Irish Competition Authority decision before the Irish Courts (Kerry Group/Breeo Foods) and the first case involving a complex “warehousing” arrangement by the parties involved (NTL/UGC). Other recent high profile merger control cases in which the Group has been involved include: Paddy Power/Betfair, Esso/Topaz, ESB/Vodafone and CRH/Holcim/Lafarge.

The Group has also been involved in the most high-profile competition law cases arising in Ireland such as the Competition Authority’s challenge to a Government-backed rationalisation of the beef processing sector (Competition Authority v BIDS), a civil action for damages resulting from competition law infringements (Mars v HB Ice Cream), acting for the Minister for Finance in relation to a challenge by shareholders of Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings to the State’s €2.7billion recapitalisation of the bank and acting for Irish Cement Limited in an investigation by the CCPC.

The Group also advises the Irish Government on the competition and State Aid aspects of the bank support measures taken by Ireland in response to the financial crisis.

The Group currently consists of partner Richard Ryan and a team of consultants and associates.

Expertise

Arthur Cox’s Competition and Regulated Markets Group is comprised of a highly experienced group of competition lawyers, dedicated to the practice of Irish and EU competition, merger control and State Aid law in a broad range of industrial sectors. We have expertise in the following areas of law:

  • Investigations into potential breaches of Articles 101 and 102 TFEU by the European Commission
  • Investigations into potential breaches of sections 4 and 5 of the Irish Competition Act by the CCPC
  • Dawn raids carried out by the European Commission and the CCPC
  • Review of commercial agreements
  • Competition law compliance programmes
  • State Aid investigations by the European Commission
  • EUMR merger control advice
  • Competition Act merger control advice
  • Competition law litigation
  • Regulated markets, including telecoms, media, energy and waste
  • Antitrust law

Our clients operate in a wide range of sectors, including:

  • Aviation
  • Banking
  • Betting and gaming
  • Broadcasting
  • Building materials
  • Construction
  • Energy
  • FMCG
  • Insurance
  • Media
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Port facilities
  • Retailing
  • Telecoms
  • Technology
  • Waste management

Experience

Competition

Competition law advice is a core practice area for the group. We continue to advise our clients on all aspects of competition law including representing them in investigations by the CCPC (both as complainant and defendant) and before the Irish Courts. A number of these cases have included the most significant instances of Irish competition law litigation over recent years.

We have also represented clients in competition law and state aid investigations undertaken by the European Commission and in proceedings before the European Courts in Luxembourg. We continue to advise clients on all aspects of competition law compliance.

  • Advising the retail group Heatons in High Court proceedings against ASICS, a manufacturer of sports performance athletic footwear, alleging abuse of dominance as a result of the termination of supply by ASICS of its products to Heatons.
  • Advising the Department of Finance of Ireland and the National Treasury Management Agency on State aid, competition and merger control issues arising in relation to the support measures taken by Ireland in the banking sector since September 2008 in response to the financial crisis, including the State bank guarantee schemes, the recapitalisations of banks, the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) to acquire and manage impaired assets of banks, bank mergers, the reorganisation of the Irish banking sector and the restructuring of banks.
  • Advising Irish Cement Limited in relation to an investigation by the CCPC.
  • Advising Aer Lingus on proceedings arising from a State aid decision concerning travel tax.
  • Advising CRH plc in relation to investigations involving CRH subsidiaries by competition authorities in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland and Spain.
  • Advising the Minister for Finance on a  legal challenge before the High Court of Ireland of the €2.7 billion recapitalisation of Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings plc in June 2011.

Merger Control

The group continues to be extremely busy in its core practice of merger control law and is involved in the most high-profile cases which have been reviewed by the CCPC. A number of these cases have given rise to complex jurisdictional and substantive issues, which are often only being considered for the first time by the CCPC.

Significant merger control cases include:

  • Advising Paddy Power on the proposed merger with Betfair Group
  • Advising Exxon Mobil on the disposal of Esso Ireland to Topaz
  • Advising CRH plc on its acquisition of €6.5billion of assets from Lafarge/Holcim
  • Advising Centrica plc on its acquisition of the supply and generation business of Bord Gáis Éireann.
  • Advising Vodafone Ireland on EU merger control notification in relation to a joint venture with ESB to build, deliver and generate a high capacity fibre-to-the-building network to homes and businesses in certain parts of Ireland.