Competition law enforcement remains high across the UK and the EU. We provide support to clients across the board, from devising bespoke compliance systems that are appropriate to each client, to advising on the competition law risks arising from commercial strategies or agreements.

We also recognise that things can sometimes go wrong and our team is adept at dealing with competition and antitrust investigations before the UK and EU authorities – whether helping complainants or defendants.

In an increasingly complex business environment, compliance with competition law remains business-critical - all the more so given the active stance of competition authorities flexing their investigatory muscles, sometimes in areas which have been off the agenda for a number of years. As competition law infringements attract very hefty fines, and because certain offences in the UK also give rise to personal, criminal liabilities, sound advice on the boundaries of competition law has never been more important.

Our clients instruct us to advise them on the competition risks arising out of issues as diverse as supply and distribution agreements, complex joint venture or other horizontal cooperation arrangements, in-licences and out-licences of technology, abuse of dominance and antitrust investigations.

Understanding the commercial rationale for a proposed collaboration will drive a more coherent competition analysis – often empowering businesses to seek better commercial outcomes. Our deep sector knowledge of the life sciences and technology spaces undoubtedly gives us an edge, and we apply this experience and expertise broadly across our client base to help clients prepare for the markets and legal challenges of the future. Increasingly, those challenges may involve the intersection of other areas of law or regulation with competition law, be it in the context of pharmaceutical regulation, data protection or intellectual property. Many of our most significant cases have involved complex issues of this kind. Our CLIP Board blog was the first to focus on the competition law / IP interface, and reflects our in-depth understanding of this area.

Competition authorities increasingly use their powers to address perceived market failings across a sector, even where there is no specific anti-competitive conduct alleged between market participants at the outset. Market-wide investigations place a heavy burden on companies’ internal resources, often lasting for several years. Outcomes can be uncertain, and can lead to intrusive or transformative remedies as well as to competition investigations into the conduct of individual companies, with all the attendant risks.

We also assist our clients when they face individual investigations, often commenced by unannounced inspections or dawn raids. As competition authorities increasingly seek a cross-border approach to these investigations, we assist clients in ensuring a rapid, coherent and co-ordinated response to any unwelcome visits.

All companies may find themselves requiring advice on the abuse of dominance aspects of the competition rules. For larger companies, and those with a prominent market position, this may involve defensive advice to ensure that conduct remains compliant with all obligations. For smaller companies, the abuse of dominance provisions are relevant to understand what rights they may have, for example to ensure continued supply or to challenge the prices at which products or services are offered by dominant entities. We help companies large and small to understand where the boundaries lie, and what the law requires.

Key contact

Pat Treacy

CLIP Board

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Acting for a UK pharmaceutical company and music retailers in Competition Act investigations before the CMA

Advising a global audio visual brand in its settlement of an EU investigation into vertical price fixing (RPM) allegations

Advising a leading pharmaceutical company on the competition aspects arising from a wholesale review of its pan-UK distribution arrangements

Advising numerous brand owners on the implementation of coherent pan-European selective distribution models

Complaining to the European Commission in relation to possible abuses of dominance arising from conduct around licensing and assertion of patents

Advising a global tech company on how the law relating to dominance applies to platforms – and how the authorities’ new focus on digital competition and access to data may affect the sector

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What others say

“Boutique IP firm Bristows LLP stands out for its ‘exceptional strength’ at the overlap between IP and competition law, for which the ‘seriously clever’ team is noted for its ‘creative’ approach to competition damages cases.”

Legal 500 2019/2018

Pat Treacy of Bristows LLP is ‘particularly good at the very complicated overlap between intellectual property and competition.’ She recently advised Google on High Court actions alleging search results discrimination.”

Chambers and Partners 2015

“Bristows LLP is ‘excellent in all fields in competition law’ and is particularly well regarded for its expertise in the IP and TMT sectors, where it provides an ‘inventive’ and ‘highly tailored’ approach to clients”.

Legal 500 2019/2018

The lawyers are “friendly, nice to work with and definitely know their stuff, so it is a pleasant experience to work with them.”

Chambers and Partners 2019

The team is “knowledgeable and experienced, and the advice is clear and concise.”

Chambers and Partners 2019

Recent rankings and awards

Competition Law Band 5
Chambers Europe 2019 - 2018

Competition Law - Band 5
Chambers UK 2019 - 2018 -2017

Competition Team of the Year
The Lawyer Awards 2017

Competition litigation - Tier 3
Legal 500 2019-2018-2017

EU and Competition - Tier 4
Legal 500 2019-2018-2017