Competition Law

Competition law is a rapidly expanding and ever changing area that can affect all businesses at both domestic and EU levels. Our team advises on all aspects of Irish and EU competition law relating to:

  • Agreements and trade practices
  • Cartels
  • Merger control
  • Abuse of dominance
  • State aid

We also have extensive experience of merger control notifications under Irish and EU rules.  We have frequently co-ordinated multi-jurisdictional merger control filings.

Our experience includes advising / acting for:

  • Uniphar (a pharmaceutical wholesaler) on the Irish  merger control aspects of the acquisition of its rival, Cahill May Roberts; this transaction was cleared by the Competition and Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (formerly the Competition Authority) after a complex Phase II investigation.
  • Asics, the well-known sportswear brand, regarding an abuse of dominance case in the Competition List of the High Court.
  • Aughinish Alumina in relation to challenging European Commission Decisions finding a hydrocarbon tax exemption to be unlawful State aid. We represented Aughinish in an application before the General Court and before the Court of Justice of the EU in subsequent appeals.
  • Electricity Supply Board (ESB) on the Irish merger control and regulatory aspects of its acquisition of Northern Ireland Electricity.
  • Private clients regarding two separate cartel investigations by the Irish Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (formerly the Competition Authority). William Fry also advised on the ‘home heating oil’ cartel, one of the most significant cartel cases to come before the Irish courts to date.
  • ESB Novusmodus and BP Alternative Energy on EU merger control aspects of their joint investment in Heliex Power Limited, an entity active in the waste heat recovery sector.

CCPC Consults on Simplified Merger Notification Procedure Guidelines

On 29 October 2019, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) published a consultation on draft Simplified Merger Notification Procedure Guidelines.


Data Protection Could Be a Second Bite at the Apple for EU Competition Regulators

Apple's acquisition of Shazam initially sparked competition concerns but during the subsequent European Commission investigation data protection emerged as a potential concern.


Increased Irish Merger Control Thresholds

The turnover thresholds under which a proposed transaction must be notified to Ireland's Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (the "CCPC") are likely to be increased shortly.


Consultation on Merger Notification Thresholds

The financial thresholds which trigger merger notifications and the statutory review timeframes for merger filings may be revised.


View all

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

Department 

  • 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
  • "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."
  • "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 - Competition
  • William Fry stands out for its ‘peerless dedication’ and ‘strength across the board’.  Legal 500, EMEA 2015 - EU & Competition

Team

  • Cormac Little 
    • 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
    • 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

  • Claire Waterson
    • 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
    • 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
  • Sheila Tormey
    • 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
    • Sheila Tormey has ‘an outstanding analytical mind’Legal 500 EMEA 2015
  • Sarah Lynam 
    • 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