We’ll work with your team to deliver competition expertise and minimise your clients’ risk.
Many medium sized and small firms have a need for competition, EU or regulatory expertise but do not have the volume of work to justify a dedicated practice. Sheppard & Smith provide a service to law firms without EU and competition law expertise which gives them a virtual EU, competition and regulatory department that operates seamlessly alongside the other services they provide. Relevant competition and regulatory issues are identified in any transaction or advice, minimising professional risk.
The benefits of incorporating this service into a law firm’s services, particularly alongside, corporate, commercial, IP, litigation and property include:
- commercial agreements: understanding the legality of exclusivity or non compete clauses as well as how far actual or potential competitors can legitimately collaborate is crucial, particularly in agreements such as joint research, joint marketing and distribution agreements, participation in standards bodies and R&D, manufacturing and outsourcing;
- litigation and damages claims: EU, regulatory and competition arguments can be effective and crucial aspects of litigation, and competition damages claims are becoming increasingly important as companies become more aware of their obligations to shareholders to recover monies owed by cartelists and other companies that have breached competition law;
- intellectual property: access to content, protection and exploitation of IP, FRAND principles in licensing of IP in standards, digital and technology gateways, the use of IP for the protection of pharmaceutical, healthcare and agro-chemicals are all issues for which an understanding of competition law can be essential to achieve the best strategic and commercial result for your clients;
- mergers and joint ventures: UK merger control can apply to any purchase of a business with assets over £70 million or where, as a consequence of the transaction, the merged entity will have a market share of over 25% (even in niche markets): appropriate advice will be necessary whenever this is the case;
- due diligence: ‘taking over’ anti-competitive practices can cause serious management problems for acquirers and, while indemnities and warranties provide some comfort, in many cases the need to identify, risk-assess, terminate or ring fence prior to purchase will be essential.
- EU regulation: we have expertise in aviation, travel, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and healthcare, financial services, food, agrochemicals and agriculture. We are able to provide advice on compliance and strategy in these areas as well as trouble shoot litigation issues;
- competition compliance: The consequences for clients of breaches of competition law can be serious: fines of up to 10% of turnover, and disqualification of directors and criminal sanctions in some jurisdictions (including throughout the UK). We can help you design and implement competition compliance programmes for those clients who have an ongoing competition compliance need. We can do this in a ‘light touch’ way, usually fully integrated into the client’s existing regulatory compliance systems.
We can help you develop EU, competition and regulatory work by identifying clients which are likely to encounter competition issues in the course of their business activities and helping you to market and promote your firm more effectively to those clients. Competition and regulatory advice often creates a significant amount of “spin off” work for other groups such as commercial, IP and litigation, as well as often being needed to provide a full service in those areas. We are able to offer advice, and help execute business development programmes for firms without competition expertise in order to generate new work.
We are also able to provide back up support to firms with single practitioners or small teams when needed.
Where we work together with other law firms, we will try and mirror, as far as we can, the charging basis which you have agreed with your client. We can, where appropriate, work on deferred or conditional fee arrangements and are happy to share fees. If you would like to discuss this further please contact us.
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Sheppard & Smith is pleased to announce that it has formed an alliance with the independent Brussels law firm, Grayston & Company.
In April 2011 the UK exemption in relation to land agreements was repealed leaving many restrictions over land subject to competition law for the first time. Restrictive covenants, such as those contained routinely in commercial developments for shopping malls and in outdoor advertising agreements are all likely to be affected. The review of land agreements to determine the enforceability of such restrictions (and their ability to attract fines) will be important exercise in understanding any risks posed by them for many businesses.