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

Sophie Lawrance

Contact

Stephen Smith

Contact
CLIP Board

Sign up to receive The CLIP Board updates

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.

Latest articles

What others say

“Bristows’ lawyers are intellectually sharp yet incredibly client-focused.”

Chambers & Partners Europe 2024

“The lawyers are very responsive and focused.”

Chambers & Partners Europe 2024

“The team has great awareness of the regulatory framework.”

Chambers & Partners Europe 2024

“A popular choice with clients from the technology and pharmaceutical sectors for advice on the full range of competition law matters.”

Chambers and Partners 2024

“Outstanding team, the best for innovation and IP related competition matters. Exceptional knowledge of the underlying technologies and markets. Very helpful synergies with tech and patent teams.”

Legal 500 2024

“The firm is extremely aware of the challenges to our organisation and this is clearly visible in the legal advice presented, which is always appropriately tailored.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“The team has considerable experience in terms of competition litigation, regulator investigations as well as day-to-day advisory work.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“The lawyers break down complicated matters and are mindful of the commercial aspects.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“The team is highly knowledgeable, skilled and experienced. It is also thoughtful and understands our perspective and priorities.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“The team is very quick to respond and provides good, pragmatic advice that can be easily disseminated.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“Bristows boasts notable strength at the intersection between competition law and IP, advising on key cases that test the definition of FRAND terms for the licensing of SEPs in the technology sector.”

Chambers and Partners 2023

“Contentious work is a core strength for the broad technology sector practice at Bristows LLP, with experience in disputes ranging from major FRAND cases to competition issues to media and data protection compliance work, which the firm handles for an impressive base of high-profile household names and multinational corporates.”

Legal 500 2023

“As well as its core competition litigation expertise, Bristows brings a deep sectoral knowledge to bear on all issues it advises on. Very attuned to market developments, the team is able to provide highly tailored and insightful advice. Its long-term relationships with clients is a testament to how highly regarded the team is.”

Legal 500 2023

“Bristows have a particular understanding of both competition and litigation matters which give them an edge when engaging in litigation. They understand the complexities of the relationship between competition law and judicial review which is rare in the field.”

Legal 500 2023

“The Bristows team is probably the best in the business when it comes to competition litigation in a pharmaceutical or broader IP space. The patent and competition lawyers work seamlessly together. The competition litigators are experienced, thoughtful and brilliant. These are the people you want on the most difficult or important cases.”

Legal 500 2023

“Lauded by clients for its ‘experienced, thoughtful and brilliant‘ capabilities at the intersection of IP and competition litigation, Bristows LLP is particularly well regarded for its technology and life sciences acumen.”

Legal 500 2023

“As well as its core EU and competition expertise, Bristows brings a deep sectoral knowledge to bear on all issues it advises on. Very attuned to market developments, the team is able to provide highly tailored and insightful advice. Its long-term relationships with clients is a testament to how highly regarded the team is.”

Legal 500 2023

“Highly approachable team who can break down complex legal concepts into plain English. Very responsive. You feel you are in safe hands.”

Legal 500 2023

“Regularly drafted in to advise on complex matters at the intersection between IP and competition law.”

Legal 500 2023

“Longstanding expertise in the technology and life sciences sectors.”

Legal 500 2023

Recent rankings and awards

Competition Law (UK) - Band 5

Competition Law (UK) - Band 5

Competition Law - Band 5

Competition Litigation - Tier 4

EU and Competition - Tier 4

Commended for Technology, Media & Telecoms

Competition Law - Band 5

Commercial Litigation (mid-market) - Tier 3

EU and Competition - Tier 4