EU & Antitrust Brochure
26 June 2012
Our EU & Competition team is one of the largest dedicated practices in Ireland and is widely recognised as a leader in the field. We have acted in some of the highest profile Irish, UK and EU competition cases in recent years. Merger control is a particular strength, with our team having advised on the first, and only, successful challenge to a Competition Authority prohibition decision in the Kerry/Breeo case. Our standing in EU law was also recently enhanced through our successful challenge to a decision of the European Parliament before the General Court in the Toland case.
Our EU & Competition team is dedicated to providing pragmatic advice and business–focused solutions for our clients and frequently advises corporate and government clients on:
- Irish and EU merger control notifications
- Joint ventures, horizontal cooperation agreements and strategic alliances
- State aid and the grant of special/exclusive rights to public undertakings
- The prohibition on anti-competitive arrangements and cartels
- Abuse of dominance
- EU law (including free movement)
- Public procurement
- General compliance issues and training and compliance programmes
- Drafting and reviewing commercials agreements in accordance with the above
More recently, we have acted in European/Irish merger control cases for:
- Liberty Mutual Group, in relation to its acquisition of the Irish general insurance business of Quinn Insurance Limited (under Administration). This was a particularly high profile transaction in this jurisdiction and notifications under the European Union Merger Regulation by Irish competition practices are extremely rare. We had the lead role in respect of this transaction
- SSE, in relation to its acquisition of Phoenix Supply Limited and Phoenix Energy Limited, and in relation to its acquisition of the Irish electricity generation assets and retail business of Endesa Ireland Limited – two of the highest profile energy transactions in the State to date
- Kerry Group, in connection with its acquisition of Breeo Foods. On appeal to the Irish High Court, we successfully challenged the Competition Authority’s prohibition decision - the first and only successful appeal to date
- RHM plc, in connection with its acquisition by Premier Foods, which involved a rare divestment order by the Competition Authority
- Clondalkin Group Inc., in connection with its acquisition of the printed components business of Catalent Pharma Solutions Inc.
Irish/EU Competition Law
We have recently advised clients in connection with Irish and EU competition law matters and have a particular expertise in the area of regulated markets across all industry sectors. More recently, we have advised the following:
- Vintners Federation of Ireland, on the high-profile price-freeze case
- Bord Gáis Networks, the State-owned energy supplier, on the unbundling, structural and competition issues arising out of the implementation of the EU’s Third Energy Package
- Gaslink, the independent gas transportation system operator, on its establishment as an independent subsidiary of Bord Gáis Networks (a business unit of the State-owned energy supplier)
- Commission for Communications Regulation, on its radio frequency spectrum strategy and spectrum auction process
We have significant expertise in public procurement law. In particular, we have advised on a number of high profile procurement projects such as the procurement of major IT systems for the Law Society of Ireland, the Passport Office, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and other public bodies.
More recently, we have advised the following:
- Grangegorman Development Agency, one of the largest urban regeneration projects in Europe, on all its major public procurements and commercial contracts since its inception
- Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, on a variety of public procurement matters including the establishment of multi-provider frameworks
- Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, on the National Postcode System Project
- Northern Irish Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, on the procurement, drafting and negotiation of the Concession Contract for the Next Generation Broadband concession for businesses in Northern Ireland
We have developed a broad and diverse proficiency in the area of EU law and are frequently instructed on EU law matters including matters relating to free movement, parallel importing, intellectual property and discrimination.
We have extensive experience of complex statutory interpretation matters, including issues of EU law, and in drafting legislation (including drafting legislation to implement EU Directives).
More recently, we have advised the following:
- Mr Ciaran Toland, an Irish Barrister, in a landmark case before the EU General Court and comprising a successful challenge to the decision of the European Parliament to refuse Mr Toland access to a report into the operation of the Parliamentary Assistance Allowance
- European Commission, on a number of separate reports concerning the implementation in Ireland of the package of e-Commerce legislation and in connection with B2B e-marketplaces
- Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, on the implementation of the EU Electronic Communications package
- European Commission, on its pan-European study of technology transfer and intellectual property issues
More recently we have advised the following:
- Liberty Mutual Group, on the State aid aspects associated with its acquisition of the Irish general insurance business of Quinn Insurance Limited
- Commission for Energy Regulation on State aid issues, public service obligations and regulatory issues
- Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, on State aid issues arising out of the roll-out of broadband to businesses in Northern Ireland
- Royal Bank of Scotland, on the compatibility of the Irish government’s bailout of Irish banks with State aid law
What people say about us:
Within the rankings of 'Competition/European Law’ in the UK jurisdiction, John Kettle is recommended as a foreign expert and is celebrated for his “fantastic knowledge, practical application to the case" and the way in which he "communicates his points clearly."
Chambers Global - EU & Competition UK, Chambers and Partners, 2012
Merger control remains a key source of work for this diverse practice. Regulated industries are another important focus; the group advises clients from the energy and pharmaceutical sectors on the full range of competition issues. Sources say: “The team has an excellent understanding of the needs of a plc, and does not waste time trying to make things bigger than they need to be.”
Chambers & Partners Europe, Europe’s Leading Lawyers, 2012
"Mason Hayes & Curran continues to grow its team at an impressive pace, reflecting an increasing demand for its competition specialists. Tony Burke in Dublin co-heads the practice with partner John Kettle, who is based in London. Partner Robert McDonagh is a public procurement specialist, and well-regarded senior associate Niall Collins joined the firm in March from Latham & Watkins."
GCR 100, Global Competition Review, 12th Edition
Mason Hayes & Curran advised an Irish barrister, Ciaran Toland, in a landmark case before the EU General Court that the team won. The practice, co-led by the highly recommended Tony Burke and London-based John Kettle, advised Liberty on its acquisition of Quinn Insurance.
Legal 500, 2012
For more advice and information on EU & Competition please contact one of our team:
The contents of this publication are to assist access to information and do not constitute legal or other advice. Readers should obtain their own legal and other advice as may be required. © Copyright 2012 Mason Hayes & Curran.