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. 

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

Department

  • 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
  • "The firm was incredibly responsive and committed, taking calls on weekends to hit deadlines. The team took away all the stress and uncertainty from me, and was quickly able to address issues that went outside competition law. We benefited from the wider depth of expertise and experience the firm offers."
  • "From the moment we made contact the team was extremely responsive and knowledgeable. Any correspondence put forward on our behalf contained great arguments that were straight to the point and made the right statement. The firm really stands out by taking a more reassuring and friendly approach towards its clients." Chambers Europe 2016
  • "The turnaround speed of this team is impressive, especially when put to a tight deadline. The lawyers are very responsive and can manage a huge amount of paperwork."Chambers Europe, 2015 - CompetitionWilliam Fry stands out for its ‘peerless dedication’ and ‘strength across the board’.  Legal 500, EMEA 2015 - EU & Competition
  • Exceptionally highly regarded practice, particularly noted for work on cartel investigations. Broad expertise encompasses public procurement, broadcasting and state aid litigation. "The team is very knowledgeable, not just about the law, but about how to handle cases in an efficient way." 
    "The team is brilliant: I cannot think of any flaws in the lawyer's attitude or grasp of the subject matter, whether Irish, UK or international law." Chambers Europe, 2014 - Competition/European Law 
  • William Fry has ‘the most dynamic competition team in Ireland’.  Legal 500, EMEA 2014 - EU & Competition
  • William Fry provides ‘top-quality service’. Legal 500 EMEA, 2013 - EU & Competition

Team

  • Cormac Little 

    • 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 
    • Interviewees describe Cormac Little as "very knowledgeable, experienced and well respected" in Irish competition law. Chambers Europe, 2015 
    • Department head Cormac Little is ‘a recognised expert in the field’. Legal 500, EMEA 2015 
    • Team head Cormac Little has ‘a very good strategic grasp of how the Irish Competition Authority functions’. Legal 500, EMEA 2014 
    • "In merger cases, you feel sure he will handle the case very well," say clients. Chambers & Partners, 2014 
    • Cormac Little is another valued member of the group, and clients say he is an ‘unassuming, low-key lawyer, who quietly gets the work done with great efficiency.’ Chambers Europe, 2013 
  • Claire Waterson

    • 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
    • Claire Waterson is considered a "competition specialist - very smart, client-friendly and able to solve problems". Chambers Europe 2015 
    • Claire Waterson ‘pays exceptional attention to detail’.  Legal 500 EMEA, 2015 
    • According to sources, Claire Waterson "is always a pleasure to work with. Her advice is always precise, clear and to the point." Chambers & Partners, 2014 
    • Claire Waterson is "tremendous: responsive, clear and pragmatic. She is the reason I keep going back to the firm”. Chambers Europe 2013 
  • Sheila Tormey

    • 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
    • Sheila Tormey has ‘an outstanding analytical mind’. Legal 500 EMEA 2015

Key Contacts

Cormac Little Partner

Claire Waterson Partner

Sheila Tormey Partner

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