Disputes focused on competition law are an increasing feature of the commercial world. We have long experience of competition disputes, whether in making or defending claims for damages, dealing with competition law defences to intellectual property infringement claims or handling appeals from regulatory decisions.

With both competition law and litigation expertise in the same core team, we are ideally placed to act on competition disputes before both courts and arbitral panels.

Our competition litigation team is truly unusual, being made up of lawyers who have both an in-depth knowledge of competition law across the board and extensive experience of litigation, as well as other types of dispute resolution. That combination sets us apart. It enables us to take a truly integrated approach to cases – strategic and substantive considerations are considered together from the outset.

Our competition team cut its litigation teeth through a succession of ground-breaking cases over the past 25 years where competition law issues have arisen in the context of technology or the enforcement of IP rights.

For more information on the specialist disputes that we continue to handle, see SEP/FRAND disputes.

With the rise in private enforcement of competition law including in arbitration, the team’s long-established expertise means that it is ideally placed to assist clients in such disputes.

Competition damages claims don’t always fit squarely within the confines of a regulatory decision, and we have found ourselves acting on an increasing number of complex ‘hybrid’ claims, often in parallel to appeals from regulatory decisions. Rather than kick a case into the long grass whilst a final regulatory decision is pending, we’ll look for ways to disentangle the various parts and ensure that proceedings are still able to progress. In doing so, we act both for those looking to recover damages and for those defending such claims.

The UK courts are increasingly tackling competition damages claims in manageable ‘chunks’, meaning a number of interim applications will inevitably pave the route to trial. These include jurisdictional disputes, determinations of relevant law, limitation arguments, and the strike-out of key parts of pleadings. We advise on all aspects, from pre-action issues through to settlement or a final hearing – as well as appeals and references to the CJEU, where available. We work with you to navigate the range of strategic options and find the strongest possible position – either as a route to settlement, or to take a case to trial.

Competition disputes are rarely limited to one jurisdiction. We are used to clients taking a multi-jurisdictional approach, and we work collaboratively with the best independent advisors from around the globe. With extensive experience in the life sciences and technology sectors in particular, we know and work with the right economists, accountants and industry experts to assist in clients litigating competition claims in these areas and beyond.

Increasingly, competition claims are also being resolved through arbitration. In sectors such as life sciences and technology, the confidentiality of arbitration as a route to resolving disputes is a major attraction - and that also applies to disputes about anti-competitive conduct or provisions in licences or other commercial agreements. We have considerable experience of alternative dispute resolution, with particular experience of arbitration of competition issues within life sciences disputes.

Key contacts

Stephen Smith

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Sophie Lawrance

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Pat Treacy

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Experience

Successfully represented Google in Streetmap v Google, a standalone damages claim brought by an online mapping company alleging that Google’s use of its maps ‘OneBox’ constituted an abuse of dominance.

Resisted a claim for a mandatory interim injunction based on an alleged abuse of dominance for a client in the life sciences sector – our rapid reaction and strategic planning prevented a costly and distracting application from succeeding.

Advising on private damages claims following public enforcement infringement decisions – including work with experts to value such claims.

Various trips to the Appellate Courts on issues including the scope of Article 102 and its application to licensing; obligations under Article 101 not to use agreements to evade competition law obligations; and on jurisdictional aspects of FRAND disputes.

Advising on several confidential arbitrations of licence agreements in the life sciences sector and on how arbitration could provide a forum for FRAND disputes.

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What others say

“Their strengths include responsiveness and the fact they quickly picked up how our business works. I like the fact that they don’t just advise on an individual matter but think things through end-to-end.”

Chambers and Partners Europe 2022

“Bristows has experts for all legal aspects of a case and these experts work extremely well together so that you get the best possible outcome as a client.”

Chambers and Partners Europe 2022

“Bristows has experts for all legal aspects of a case and these experts work extremely well together so that you get the best possible outcome as a client.”

Chambers and Partners 2022

“Their strengths include responsiveness and the fact they quickly picked up how our business works. I like the fact that they don’t just advise on an individual matter but think things through end-to-end.”

Chambers and Partners 2022

“A leading specialism is in crossover intellectual property and competition cases. They have great strength and depth in that regard.”

Chambers and Partners 2022

“Bristows is probably the best TMT/IP firm in the UK – especially in the IT and telecoms area – having been involved throughout the entire development of FRAND-based litigation in the UK over the last 15 years.”

Legal 500 2022

“They are responsive, strategic thinkers with laser-focused advice and constantly work to ensure the best result for their clients.”

Legal 500 2022

“We have worked on many cases together over the years and they always were outstanding.”

Legal 500 2022

“As well as its core EU and competition expertise, Bristows brings a deep sectoral knowledge to bear on all issues it advises on.”

Legal 500 2022

“Very attuned to market developments, the team is able to provide highly tailored and insightful advice.”

Legal 500 2022

“Its long-term relationships with clients is a testament to how highly regarded the [competition] team is.”

Legal 500 2022

“The close integration with the patent litigation and the general litigation team give the team a competitive advantage when it comes to litigate competition cases (especially if in innovative, IP intensive markets).”

Legal 500 2022

“The competition team has the trust of huge clients on their most important cases.”

Legal 500 2022

“The individuals live and breathe their subject matter, know the industry inside out and are supported by their excellent regulatory and competition colleagues.”

Legal 500 2022

“The Bristows regulatory team are solution-oriented, practical lawyers which is a differentiator when looking for regulatory counsel.”

Legal 500 2022

“Experienced, knowledgeable and well-connected, good at the practical application of competition law.”

Legal 500 2022

“Its long-term relationships with clients are testament to how highly regarded the team is.”

Legal 500 2022

“Bristows’ compact competition team has established itself as one of the market leaders in the pharmaceutical sector and for cases involving a crossover between antitrust and intellectual property.”

Global Competition Review 2021

“[The SEPs and FRAND team] has a raft of experience.”

Juve UK 2021

“Team [is] well set up for future cases regarding SEPs and FRAND.”

Juve UK 2021

Recent rankings and awards

Competition Litigation - Tier 3

EU and Competition - Tier 4

Competition Law - Band 5

Competition Law - Band 5

Technology, Media and Telecoms - Commended

Top Firm for Intellectual Property

UK Cross-Border Telecoms Patent

Competition Team of the Year