Competition Disputes

We are Stibbe Competition Disputes specialists

With years of experience in disputes before the EU Commission and the EU courts, as well as in our own national jurisdictions, we have the relevant expertise necessary to assist our clients.

Competition Disputes

We have successfully represented leading businesses before the courts in some of the largest domestic and international competition disputes in the Benelux and at EU level.

Our specialists cover all aspects of competition disputes including cartels, abuses of dominant positions, merger control (mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures), and State aid.

We are also active in the notification of transactions, assistance in complaints, leniency applications, requests for provisional measures, settlement procedures, informal contacts and other procedures.

Our multidisciplinary teams also have essential experience before the European Commission, the EU courts, and various national courts.

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03.09.2020 NL law
COVID-19 impacts level and payment of antitrust fines

Short Reads - As well as granting companies leeway on certain COVID-19 initiated collaborations (see our May 2020 newsletter), the coronavirus outbreak has also led competition authorities to take a more lenient stance towards fine calculations and payments. The European Commission has extended the due date for fine payments by an additional three months in response to potential short-term liquidity issues brought about by the pandemic. Similar reasons led the Dutch Trade and Industry Appeal Tribunal to reduce a EUR 1 million cartel fine to just EUR 10,000.

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02.07.2020 NL law
European Commission to pull the strings of foreign subsidies

Short Reads - The European Commission is adding powers to its toolbox to ensure a level playing field between European and foreign(-backed) companies active on the EU market. On top of merger control and Foreign Direct Investment screening obligations, companies may also need to account for future rules allowing scrutiny of subsidies granted by non-EU governments if those subsidies might distort the EU Single Market.

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04.06.2020 NL law
Please share – ACM conditionally clears shared mobility platform merger

Short Reads - There may soon be a new competition tool available to tackle structural competition concerns in dynamic tech and platform markets. Until then, competition authorities resort to existing tools to deal with these markets. The Dutch competition authority (ACM) recently subjected the merger of two emerging platforms – without significant market footprint – to behavioural remedies. On 20 May 2020, the ACM cleared the merger between the travel apps of Dutch rail operator NS and transport company Pon.

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04.06.2020 NL law
More hurdles to cross: Foreign Direct Investment gaining momentum

Short Reads - Cross-border acquisitions and mergers may soon have an extra hurdle to cross before receiving the green light. In the EU, the development of FDI screening mechanisms has gained speed after COVID-19. Member States are steering away from a liberal investment policy and instead opting for mechanisms to protect companies from foreign takeover. Also in the Netherlands, broader investment screening is on its way. Companies should take account of these developments when contemplating M&A deals.

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03.09.2020 NL law
The ACM’s Green Deal: achieving sustainability via competition law?

Short Reads - The ACM has issued draft guidelines on the application of competition law to sustainability agreements. Companies entering into agreements that restrict competition but contribute to governmental sustainability objectives – i.e. lower CO2 emissions – may expect more room for collaboration. The proposed framework would allow these types of agreements if their anti-competitive effects are outweighed by their environmental benefits to society as a whole (rather than to in-market consumers only, as under the existing framework).

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04.06.2020 NL law
No proof of competitive disadvantage? No abusive favouritism

Short Reads - Companies claiming abuse of dominance in civil proceedings have their work cut out for them, as demonstrated by a ruling of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal. Real estate association VBO had accused dominant online platform Funda of favouritism. However, in line with the District Court’s earlier ruling, the Appeal Court dismissed the claim for insufficient evidence of negative effects on competition. The ruling confirms that the effect-based approach also applies in civil abuse claims, and that the standard of proof is high.    

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07.05.2020 NL law
ECJ confirms: no shortcut for ‘by object’ antitrust infringements

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice has found there is no shortcut for determining whether particular conduct can be held to have the object to restrict competition. A competition authority will always need to assess carefully whether the conduct reveals "a sufficient degree of harm to competition” before labelling it a ‘by object’ infringement. This is the case where there is sufficiently solid and reliable experience showing that this type of conduct is commonly regarded as being inherently anticompetitive.

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03.09.2020 NL law
Home, but not alone: Commission may complete dawn raids from home

Short Reads - The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has rejected Nexans’ appeal in the power cables cartel case. The Commission started the dawn raid at Nexans’ premises, but due to lack of time finished the raid at the Commission’s premises in Brussels. The ECJ found that the Commission can copy data and assess its relevance to the investigation at its own premises, while safeguarding companies’ rights of defence.

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02.07.2020 NL law
New competition tool: something old, something new, something borrowed

Short Reads - Large online platforms may face more regulatory obligations, whilst non-dominant companies’ unilateral conduct may soon be curbed. The European Commission intends to tool up its kit by adding a new regulation to keep digital gatekeepers in check, as well as providing more clarity on how to define digital markets in its new Market Definition Notice.

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04.06.2020 NL law
Not so fast – General Court clarifies merger control test

Short Reads - There is no magical number when it comes to “4-to-3” telecom mergers. On 28 May 2020, the EU’s General Court (“Court”) handed down a landmark judgment annulling a 2016 decision of the European Commission (“Commission”) blocking the merger between O2 UK and Three. The judgment fine-tunes the Commission’s application of the “significant impediment to effective competition” test for horizontal mergers and raises the bar for proving the removal of an “important competitive force” as a result of the merger.  

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07.05.2020 NL law
COVID-19: fast-forwarding competition law

Short Reads - Competition authorities are temporarily ‘green-lighting’ certain collaboration initiatives to safeguard the supply of essential products in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. At the same time, authorities warn against using the current exceptional circumstances to engage in anti-competitive practices, such as price-fixing, excessive pricing, refusals to deal or opportunistic takeovers. 

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