Competition Disputes

The Practice

Our Competition Disputes team is regarded as a leading competition and antitrust practice and has a strong track record of successfully dealing with complex and high-profile competition and antitrust disputes.

Our Competition Disputes team is a multi-disciplinary team, combining litigation, advisory and regulatory expertise. Our highly skilled lawyers bring extensive experience to all matters. We work with our clients to vigorously protect their rights and defend their interests. We frequently advise on bringing and defending competition and antitrust claims, responding to dawn raids, dealing with cartel investigations, obtaining interim relief and resolving issues through alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Our reputation is built on understanding the issues that our clients face and providing the best solutions and achieving the best possible outcomes for our clients.

Cartel Investigations

We have unrivalled experience in assisting with cartel investigations in a large number of sectors, including attending dawn raids by national and European competition authorities, challenging investigation procedures before national and European courts, conducting large-scale document reviews and advising on leniency and settlement programmes.

We work with clients to devise tailored “cartel investigation protocols”, setting out specific guidance for the personnel who will usually be the first to encounter the authorities, the personnel who are responsible for the running of the organisation, and the personnel who will deal with the lead investigator.

We have established a Dawn Raid Response Unit and are ready with our dedicated team to assist in the event of a dawn raid or investigation.

We give tailored advice on how to provide information without losing privilege or compromising confidentiality. We also assist with developing post-dawn raid defence strategies and preparing for possible further inspections.

Private Damages Actions

Our expert team regularly assists clients with bringing and defending high-value commercial claims, involving both injunctive relief and damages before national and European courts and is ideally placed to devise top-class litigation strategies to navigate through all legal challenges. We consider all aspects of a client’s position, the options available to the client to achieve the optimum outcome and how to manage costs efficiently.

We are currently assisting a client with defending a multitude of High Court challenges on foot of the largest ever fine imposed by the European Commission for cartel activity in the truck sector.

State Aid

We have a depth of experience in advising clients in state aid disputes, regularly handling matters that are close to the European Commission, as well as national and European courts.

Our Experience:

Our experience and expertise puts us in the best position to deal with all matters in the rapidly evolving field of competition and antitrust law.

Our experience includes the following:

  • Acting for Volvo and Renault Trucks in over 50 sets of High Court proceedings which have been instituted on foot of a finding by the European Commission that several truck manufacturers engaged in unlawful conduct between 1997 and 2011 in relation to truck pricing and the timing and passing on of the costs for the introduction of emission technologies. Volvo and Renault Trucks together with other truck manufacturers were subsequently fined a record €2.93 billion.
  • Advising a party involved in the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission investigation into ticketing at concerts/events in Ireland.
  • Acting for CRH plc in defending High Court proceedings brought by Framus Limited (and related companies in liquidation) and Goode Concrete concerning alleged anti-competitive practices in the concrete and cement industries in Ireland.
  • Acting for CRH plc in a successful challenge before the High Court and the Supreme Court, to the scope of documentation seized by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) during a dawn raid at a wholly owned subsidiary, Irish Cement Limited. This case resulted in a landmark Supreme Court decision on the scope of dawn raid powers and the right to privacy.
  • Advising the Minister for Finance of Ireland in relation to a High Court challenge of a €2.7 billion State recapitalisation of Irish Life & Permanent Group Holdings plc in July 2011 for financial stability purposes, including advising on State aid aspects of the case.
  • Acting for ABB Limited in respect of a follow-on action for damages brought by ESB Limited arising out of a decision of the European Commission concerning unlawful activity in the Gas Insulation Switch Gear sector.
  • Acting for the Minister for Finance and the National Treasury Management Agency in obtaining a series of Court Orders pursuant to the Credit Institutions (Stabilisation) Act 2010 in relation to the restructuring of the banking sector and dealing with associated Court challenges, including the recapitalisation of Allied Irish Banks (AIB), the transfer of certain assets of Anglo Irish Bank Limited and Irish Nationwide Building Society and burden sharing through a Subordinated Liabilities Order in relation to AIB which included advising on State aid issues arising in the context of these measures.
  • Advising retail group Heatons Ltd in relation to a claim for damages against ASICS Ltd for breaches of competition law relating to the sale of ASICs Footwear in Heatons stores.
  • Advising retail group Heatons Ltd in relation to a claim for damages against O’Neills Sports for breaches of competition law relating to the sale of GAA jerseys.
  • Advising the Central Bank of Ireland on State aid and competition law issues arising in relation to measures to reorganise the credit union sector in Ireland for financial stability purposes, including advising on High Court applications to merge certain credit unions for financial stability purposes.
  • Representing eir, the Irish telecoms incumbent, before the High Court in several statutory appeals of decisions by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) designating eir as operator with “significant market power” (based on the competition law concept of dominance), and in the defence of enforcement actions by ComReg, including as regards the allegedly anti-competitive effects of certain bundling practices.
  • Acting for Mars in High Court proceedings against HB Ice Cream Limited (owned by Unilever) for breaches of competition law in the ice cream market in Ireland.
  • Acting for daa plc, the national airport operator, in a number of disputes, including litigation with Ryanair and in disputes and appeals involving Ryanair and the Commission for Aviation Regulation in relation to various determinations by the Commission fixing the level of airport charges in relation to access to essential airport facilities.
  • Acting for Aer Lingus in the defence of State aid recovery actions by the Irish State following a European Commission’s decision that the lower rate of the Air Travel tax as applied between 2009 and 2011 constituted unlawful State aid, and in the action brought by Aer Lingus against the Irish State for the restitution of the Air Travel Tax and damages.
  • Acting for Greencore Group plc in successfully defending the first follow-on actions brought in the Irish courts by Irish market participants consequent on a finding of the European Commission (IP/97/405) (subsequently upheld by the European Court of Justice on appeal) that a subsidiary of the Greencore Group, Irish Sugar plc, abused its dominant position on the Irish sugar market.
  • Acting for Greencore Group plc in its challenge to the decision of the Irish State in July 2006 in relation to the allocation of €145 million of restructuring aid on the EU wide restructuring of the EU sugar industry, culminating in a High Court judgment quashing that decision in June 2007.
  • Acting for the Beef Industry Development Society Limited in proceedings before the High Court, the Supreme Court, and the Court of Justice of the European Union in a legal challenge taken by the Irish Competition Authority in respect of a proposed rationalisation scheme for the beef processing sector in Ireland.
  • Acting for eircell (now Vodafone) in the successful defence of proceedings for alleged abuse of a dominant position and a subsequent investigation by the European Commission.
  • Advising Protégé Limited in relation to a competition law claim for damages against Irish Distillers Limited in relation to supply of mature and new fill Irish whiskey.