Vincent Smith is a partner at Sheppard & Smith and was, until mid 2010, a founding partner at Hausfeld & Co LLP in London focussing on UK and European claimant and complainant competition matters. He is also currently a Visiting Fellow at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law.
While at Hausfeld, Vincent led the team in the high profile ‘air cargo’ representative claim (Emerald v British Airways plc) and in a Competition Appeal Tribunal case in the chemicals sector for cartel claimants (Moy Park and ors v Degussa AG). He also worked on the claims against the marine hose cartel and the paraffin wax cartel for a wide spectrum of corporate claimants. In addition Vincent took a leading role in structuring insurance and funding for the firms collective damages claims.
He joined from the Office of Fair Trading, the UK’s main public competition enforcement body, where he was Senior Director for Competition and Director of its Competition Enforcement division from 2003 – 2007. He led the OFT’s 180-strong competition function, having overall responsibility for the OFT’s work in combatting cartels and other anti-competitive practices, and also for the OFT’s ‘first phase’ merger control duties, as well as oversight of its developing enforcement policy – for example on case prioritisation. From 2002-2003 he was the OFT’s Director of Competition Policy Co-ordination and deputy Director of the division.
At the OFT Vincent was responsible for many high profile decisions and policies. In particular, he led the settlement negotiations in Independent Schools and was heavily engaged in the ground breaking Mastercard interchange fees decision.
Cartel enforcement, particularly in the construction sector, formed a large part of his responsibilities, and he was involved in all of the OFT’s major cartel investigations during his tenure. In particular he initiated the first steps in the UK to ‘fast track’ groups of cartel cases for public enforcement purposes.
He also oversaw the OFT’s input to the later stages of negotiating and then implementing the ‘devolved’ European competition enforcement regime under EC Regulation 1/2003 in the UK and latterly took the initiative in shaping the OFT’s ongoing work on encouraging a greater degree of private enforcement of competition law through damages actions in the UK.
Before joining the OFT, Vincent was Legal Director for competition issues at OFTEL, then the UK telecommunications regulator, for two years, where he advised on a wide range of regulatory issues, including the first use in the UK by a public enforcement body of its formal powers under the Competition Act 1998 in March 2000.
Vincent qualified as a Solicitor (England and Wales) in 1990 after training with Simmons & Simmons and spent ten years in private practice in London and Brussels with the firm, specialising in EC and competition law. This included defending companies in European Commission cartel cases (in cement and carton board for example), advising on mergers and the full range of issues relating to joint ventures (including state aid and related issues) and also on patent and other intellectual property licensing arrangements in various technology sectors – particularly pharmaceuticals.
From 1999-2000 he was a partner with Pinsent Curtis in London and Birmingham specialising in competition issues, including compliance matters and advising on joint ventures and telecommunications and technology licensing. He has a Masters degree in European Law, with distinction, from the University of Liège in Belgium and a first degree, with honours (2:1), in law and French from the University of Surrey. He was also a ‘stagiare’ in the European Commission’s Legal Service in 1988 where he worked on the right of establishment to exercise a profession in other EU States and the freedom to provide cross-border services. He speaks fluent French.
He is a regular speaker at conferences and seminars and teaches competition law and procedure at postgraduate level at City University, London and has also taught at postgraduate level in the law faculty at University College, London.
Contact Vincent on +44 (0)20 3427 3527 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.