Competition & Regulation

Our Competition & Regulation Department combines technical expertise with a practical problem-solving approach to legal issues. We are consistently ranked in the top tier of Irish advisers for Competition & Regulation work by leading directories including Chambers Europe, Global Competition Review and the Legal 500 EMEA.

Areas of expertise include:

We represent clients regarding competition investigations before the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (formerly the Competition Authority) and the European Commission. We have wide experience of practising competition law in the UK, Brussels and Luxembourg, having represented clients before the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (Formerly the Office of Fair Trading), the European Commission, the Court of Justice of the EU and the General Court.  We also focus on cartel investigations.

Our expertise in merger control notifications under both Irish and EU merger control rules is widely acknowledged. We frequently co-ordinate multi-jurisdictional merger control filings.

We advise Irish and international clients across a range of regulated sectors, including telecoms, broadcasting, energy and transport. We also advise on certain white-collar crime issues including anti-money laundering.

Our experience in both EU and Irish public procurement law has proven invaluable to contracting authorities (including utility companies) in running projects in compliance with applicable EU and Irish rules.

We are experienced in all areas of EU law, including free movement issues, rights of establishment and customs and trade law.  We also advise on both the EU and Irish export licensing regimes for dual-use and military goods. 

On contentious issues, we work with our Litigation & Dispute Resolution Department to achieve a positive outcome for clients.

Our experience includes advising:

  • King Digital Entertainment plc on its USD$5.9bn sale to Activision Blizzard Inc. under the EU Merger Regulation. This transaction was also cleared by the US and South Korean merger control authorities.
  • DCC plc on the sale of Fannin Compounding to Baxter Healthcare. This ‘merger to monopoly’ was cleared by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (“CCPC”) under the ‘failing firm/division’ defence. 
  • ComReg (the Irish telecoms regulator) on a number of regulatory matters including High Court enforcement proceedings.
  • Asics, the well-known sportswear brand, in defence of an abuse of dominance case in the Competition List of the High Court.
  • Public bodies such as SOLAS/FÁS, the IDA and Fingal County Council on their EU/Irish public procurement obligations. We have also represented numerous bidders in challenges to the decisions of public bodies under public procurement remedies rules. 
  • Uniphar (a major pharmaceutical wholesaler) on the acquisition of its rival, Cahill May Roberts. This ‘3 to 2’ transaction was cleared by the CCPC after a Phase II investigation.
  • Aughinish Alumina on challenges before the EU Courts to European Commission Decisions finding a hydrocarbon tax exemption to be unlawful State aid. 
  • DCC plc on the sale of part of its Food & Beverage division to Valeo Foods UK Limited.  This transaction was cleared, subject to remedies, by the CCPC.
  • Premier Lotteries Ireland Limited on the regulatory aspects of its negotiations with the Irish Department of Public Expenditure and Reform for the award of the new National Lottery licence in 2014. 
  • Selfridges Group on the acquisition of Arnotts, the major Dublin department store. This involved a voluntary referral of the merger from the European Commission to the CCPC and obtaining unconditional clearance.
  • Tesco Mobile Ireland Limited as an interested third party in the European Commission’s review of Hutchison 3G’s acquisition of Telefónica Ireland under the EU Merger Regulation. 
  • Private clients regarding two separate cartel investigations by the CCPC. William Fry also advised on the ‘home heating oil’ cartel, the largest such case to come before the Irish courts to date.
  • Pharmaceutical, medical device, fast moving consumer goods, or FMCG, and other clients on a range of distribution, other vertical and alleged abuse of dominance issues. 

CCPC Publishes Annual Report 2019

The Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has published its Annual Report 2019.


European Commission launches consultation on Digital Services Act package

The European Commission is seeking views on a new legal framework for the provision of digital services across the EU Single Market.


CCPC Finds No Evidence of a Cartel Between Beef Processors

This article discusses the recent Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) finding that there is no evidence of a cartel between beef processors despite a number of complaints by beef farmers.


CCPC to Commence Simplified Merger Notification Procedure on 1 July 2020

On 7 May 2020, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) announced that a new Simplified Merger Notification Procedure (the Simplified Procedure) would commence on 1 July 2020 and published Simplified Procedure Guidelines (the Guidelines).


COVID-19 and the Food Sector – Temporary Derogations from Competition Law Rules

The European Commission has granted a temporary derogation from competition rules in certain food sectors to help producers combat the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic


View all

We are consistently ranked as one of the leading Competition & Regulation law firms in Ireland.

Department 

  • William Fry has a strong reputation for advising on merger control, particularly the negotiation of remedies with the CCPC, and is active in state aid and public procurement matters. One client describes the competition team as "excellent, easy to interact with and responsive." Legal 500 2020
  • William Fry's competition team has been described as "top of the range and a leader in the field." Another interviewee highlights the firm's ability to pull together lawyers from related practice areas, saying: "The teams collaborate well; they are well integrated and work seamlessly." Chambers Europe 2020
  • The team at William Fry is "super responsive, gives thorough and comprehensive advice and is particularly good at handling foreign-based commercial clients". The practice is known for its strength in merger control matters. ​​Legal 500 2019 
  • One client said the department was "Highly responsive, commercially strategic and able to work with very tight deadlines. They have a clear understanding of both the commercial and technical legal issues and give clear and direct advice". Another client states "The firm is super responsive, gives thorough and comprehensive advice and is particularly good at handling foreign-based commercial clients who need to be serviced 24/7". Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Commentators say: "William Fry has one of the top competition law practices in Ireland. The team's strengths lie in its international outlook and competency across the board. It has a joined-up approach for competition, regulatory, IP and litigation work and it also has its feet firmly on the ground in the Irish market." Clients note that the team is "very responsive to our needs, acting fast when requested but also giving us downside risk advice when necessary. Their industry knowledge is high and they have good relationships with the regulatory authorities."  Chambers Europe 2018 
  • Clients appreciate the firm's "practical, business-focused advice," with other sources adding that "they put themselves in your shoes" and "are quick to grasp problems and are solution-oriented." Other sources appreciate that the team "understands the competition market, has good contacts and a very good understanding of the processes." Chambers Europe 2017
  • William Fry is a ‘top competition firm’, with a ‘technically excellent team’Legal 500 EMEA 2016

Team

Cormac Little

  • Interviewees describe Cormac Little as a "savvy and sophisticated" competition lawyer. "He doesn't overcomplicate things unnecessarily, but rather has a practical approach," says one client, while another source reports: "He does not panic and has good judgement." One client admires Cormac's pragmatic approach saying that: "Some competition lawyers tell you everything is a breach, whereas he is very, very practical. I’d consider him to be among half a handful of the best competition lawyers in the very small group.” Chamber Europe 2020
  • According to Legal 500 2020, Cormac has been described as "an outstanding competition lawyer who gives excellent advice and is able to effectively communicate in a way that overcomes the complexities of the law." Another client notes that Cormac is an "excellent lawyer who has a calm approach and provides efficient and well-reasoned responses."
  • "He is very quick to understand what the problem is, find insight and give practical advice on how to move forward." Chambers Europe 2019
  • "Calm, knowledgable" team head Cormac Little advised The Irish Times on its acquisition of the Irish Examiner group. Legal 500 EMEA 2019 
  • Department head Cormac Little is renowned in the field of competition law and has a "vast wealth of knowledge in relation to both domestic and EU legislation." One source notes: "He is the epitome of understated excellence - calm, knowledgeable, discreet and quietly strategic in his overall focus." Clients praise his "detailed knowledge of Irish competition law and understanding of the related nuances of engaging with the CCPC." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Respected practitioner Cormac Little offers a "good balance of experience and practical advice" on a variety of EU and competition matters, including merger control and public procurement. Clients describe him as "a very likeable and calm-inducing lawyer." Chambers Europe 2017
  • Cormac Little is ‘very knowledgeable and has a good relationship with the regulatory authorities’.  Cormac is described as ‘ultra-reliable’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • Interviewees describe Cormac Little as "lightning quick, and able to comprehend complex issues right away, showing that he is committed to our situation.Chambers Europe 2016
  • Cormac Little ‘really engages with clients’. Legal 500 2016

Claire Waterson

  • Claire advises on state aid appeals for public entities and beneficiary companies. She also stands out for her advice to Irish regulators: "Waterson is perfect, unbelievably organised and extremely responsive." reports one interviewee. "She is second to none on procurement and regulatory topics." Chambers Europe 2020
  • Claire has been described by clients as an "excellent lawyer with a calm approach"  who "provides efficient and well-reasoned responses." Another client noted that Claire "is clever and shows keen attention to detail – she makes complex ideas appear simple." Legal 500 2020
  • Claire is an established figure with a formidable track record in state aid, public procurement and regulated industries mandates. According to one interviewee, she "is a highly organised and efficient lawyer, very very process-driven, always thinking of the next step and how to maximise your position at every point." Chambers Europe 2019 
  • Claire Waterson is "calm, considered and practical," according to market sources. She is regarded as an expert on competition, regulatory and procurement issues. One commentator remarks: "She is very concise, good with clients and knows her stuff. She has a good combination of business sense and competition acumen which is very good for clients." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Clients say that she is "very cool and measured, with a real conciseness in how she thinks about issues." Chambers Europe 2017
  • Claire is ‘very knowledgeable and has a good relationship with the regulatory authorities’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017 
  • Clients say she has a "very smart, analytical brain, and is good on the nuances of EU directives." Chambers Europe 2016

Sheila Tormey

  • Clients have described Sheila as "impressive" and "a professional, slick operator. She’s a stickler for detail. Great on transactions and mergers.” Another client adds that she "provides practical and sensible advice on complex work, is responsive and makes life easy for us. She combines technical expertise with a commercial approach. There is nothing to improve.” Chambers Europe 2020 
  • Sources highlight her client care, with one explaining: "She is pleasant and responsive and has a thoroughly commercial approach at all times." She advised Irish Life Group on competition elements of its acquisition of a strategic shareholding in Invesco. Chambers Europe 2019
  • Sheila is "excellent". Legal 500 2018
  • Sheila Tormey "handles matters with great efficiency and provides concise and pragmatic advice," according to sources. She is especially noted for her expertise in the telecommunications and financial services sectors. Interviewees report that "she has impressed with her ability to manage a large case and in anticipating and meeting client needs." Chambers Europe 2018
  • Sheila Tormey "handles matters with great efficiency and provides concise and pragmatic advice," according to sources. Interviewees report that "she has impressed with her ability to manage a large case and in anticipating and meeting client needs."  Chambers Europe 2018
  • Interviewees appreciate that Sheila Tormey"goes out of her way to understand the client's case," noting "her great expertise in the EU and competition law." Chambers Europe 2017
  • State aid expert Sheila Tormey shows ‘excellent attention to detail’. Legal 500 EMEA 2017
  • According to clients Sheila Tormey is"commercial, and able to see the bigger picture, yet highly accurate and thorough in her approach." Chambers Europe 2016
  • Sheila is ‘a strategic thinker’Legal 500 2016

Sarah Lynam

  • Sarah Lynam has been ranked as a 'Star Associate' in Chambers Europe 2020. She is singled out by interviewees for her ability to "give clear, concise and high-quality advice." and described her as "an impressive character". Another client admires Sarah for her "ability to give clear, concise and high quality advice on the legal issues surrounding a complex mandate," adding that she "compares very excellently with the legal advisors I have dealt with over the dozen or so years I have been involved in competition enforcement.”
  • Sarah Lynam "Routinely advises on competition law and sectoral regulation and is recognised by commentators for her technical ability and responsiveness. She was part of the team advising Exponent Private Equity on the Irish merger control aspects of its acquisition of the Racing Pos". Chambers Europe 2018
  • One client states "Senior associate Sarah Lynam has a remarkable record advising significant corporate clients on regulatory and compliance issues. She covers the full spectrum of competition mandates, including merger notifications, investigations and regulated industries". Chambers Europe 2019

 

Key Contacts

Cormac Little Partner

Claire Waterson Partner

Sheila Tormey Partner

View All