On 16th March 2017 EU Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager made an important speech concerning competition policy for the technology sector. She spoke about the way that computer algorithms are being used in ways that could facilitate breach of the law. Her comments covered issues arising from the Google investigation, concerns raised about social media and,…
Competition law issues can arise in a wide variety of agreements and business arrangements. Regardless of sector and size, any business needs to be aware of competition law in order to meet its obligations and to protect its rights and position in the marketplace. We provide advisory services on all aspects of competition law.
We can advise businesses generally on how to structure their governance and legal risk systems, tailored to the type and scale of the business concerned. We cover the range of legal specialisations that typically affect technology companies and we can provide advice on intellectual property, data protection and cybersecurity issues that are critical to the technology sector.
Infringement of competition law has serious consequences both for companies and individuals. Contracts can be deemed invalid or unenforceable and egregious breach can even lead to criminal sanctions to the business and some individuals behind it. We can advise on the best ways to address these issues and provide:
- cost effective diligence and investigatory services to check whether existing contracts are compliant with the current competition law
- state of the art competition law compliance training programs for technology businesses and their staff
- review and advice on legal governance, risk control and audit system
Competition law issues can arise in a range of agreements, such as:
Commercial agreements. Competition law issues may arise in agreements that:
- fix or affect competitor’s independent decisions over prices, terms and conditions
- set sales territories and sales or market segmentation strategies that involve competitors
- align different businesses’ economic interests or are specialisation agreements
- involve sharing of resources, facilities, and products between businesses
- involve grant of public resources in any form to the benefit of certain undertakings or whole sectors
In technology markets, intellectual property licencing agreements, technology transfer agreements and all types of vertical agreements from distribution to franchising raise complex competition law issues which we can help address.
Investigations and compliance. The nature of the technology industry means that both competition and collaboration are common between businesses. Care is needed in ensuring that agreements and arrangements are compatible with the law and that, where issues arise, the consequences and risks are properly appreciated and strategies are devised to address eventual consequences or to mitigate potential risks.
Corporate structures. Collaboration can take many forms. We have extensive experience on both the corporate and commercial structures used to put in place agreements with a collaborative element such as joint ventures, partial acquisitions and outsourcing agreements. Corporate transactions of all types may raise issues requiring competition law clearance from relevant regulatory and antitrust authorities. With regards to such transactions, we can advise on:
- jurisdictions and the applicability of the relevant regulatory and antitrust laws
- timetables and merger clearance project planning
- contractual issues in merger agreements designed to mitigate merger control risks
- notifications, presentations and advocacy of transactions before the relevant regulatory authorities
International transactions may be subject to the law of a wide range of jurisdictions. We have considerable experience in advising clients on the applicability of overlapping laws such as telecommunications regulations and financial services laws. In relation to merger control, we are able to act for parties of a merger, or for those who may be interested in raising competition law or wider public interest issues that deserve the attention of the authorities.
State aid. The European Union regulates the measures that involve aid by the Member States to undertakings or to the production of certain goods. State aid measures can take countless forms. EU law prohibits such aid when it distorts or threatens to distort competition in a way that is incompatible with the functioning of the internal market. Furthermore, aid compatible with the internal market cannot be granted without previous notification to and subsequent approval from the European Commission. We have experience in advising both undertakings and public bodies on State aid matters relating to a large number of sectors. We can advise on:
- agreements, laws and regulations that might involve the grant of aid measures through public resources, before they are signed, adopted or approved
- submission of complaints for alleged grant of aid measures to competitors
- defence from State aid allegations in the context of investigation and proceedings initiated by the European Commission
- litigation before national and European courts
Competition law litigation. Litigation in competition law is increasingly common. We have a leading practice in taking and defending claims for damages before the authorities and the courts. We both manage multijurisdictional litigation on behalf of clients and advise on jurisdictions and complaints to the relevant authorities that may be taken in parallel with litigation strategies. We can help with investigations and evidence gathering and pleadings. We work along with specialist counsel on court advocacy in different courts and jurisdictions.
Funding. Even the biggest companies are conservative when it comes to funding claims. We are familiar with commercial litigation funders and their requirements. We can advise on the typical arrangements required by commercial funders.