GCR 100 - 17th Edition

Latvia

10 January 2017

Latvia

Of the five firms that made up Latvia’s competition bar in 2014, only four remain, as the antitrust enforcer faces resource constraints of its own.

Elite

Known for its prowess in behavioural matters, Raidla Lejins & Norcous rebranded as COBALT in May 2015, and joined forces with highly recommended firm Borenius in January 2016. The Cobalt practice is led by experienced practitioner Dace Silava-Tomsone, who is highly regarded among her peers, and the only one of the firm’s partners to dedicate more than half of her time to competition law.

The team represents AKKA/LAA – a collective rights management organisation – in an appeal against a decision by Latvia’s Competition Council that condemned the company for allegedly abusive public performance fees. The case is pending in Latvia’s Supreme Court. In private litigation, the team has defended Riga’s airport in what is perhaps Latvia’s largest private enforcement case; Air Baltic Corporation sued the airport over an alleged abuse of dominance and sought €23 million in damages.

Silava-Tomsone advised Konekesko Latvija, a tractor distributor, on the introduction of a new warranty programme that needed to be aligned with previous commitments agreed with the Competition Council. In mergers, the team has recently represented private equity shop BaltCap in its acquisition of the financial automation business of OpusCapita across all Baltic jurisdictions; AB Linas Agro as it bought a fertiliser trade business; and the Darby Converging Europe Mezzanine Fund’s sale of dairy producer Rigas Piensaimnieks to the Meridian Capital CIS Fund, which involved merging the dairy industry’s largest rivals.

Līga Merwin leads the top practice at KLAVINS ELLEX, which was known as Lawin until May 2015. The firm historically has been the leader in merger control on the Latvian market, and also has a busy docket of enforcement work.

Merwin represented Maxima Latvija in a successful challenge against a Latvian infringement decision regarding exclusivity provisions in the company’s lease agreements. Merwin represented the supermarket through the national courts, and in a reference to the European Court of Justice – a rare case that saw a Latvian matter get to the EU’s courts. The ECJ ruled in Maxima Latvija’s favour. Merwin also acts for JCDecaux in an infringement case dealing with its exclusivity arrangements for advertising in the city of Riga.

The Klavins Ellex team represents Drogas in one of Latvia’s few follow-on cases, which looks likely to clarify the law on damages that can be claimed in follow-on abuse of dominance cases. Also in the abuse of dominance sphere, the firm represents Latvijas Gāze on dominance issues relating to its refusal to grant access to gas supply, which has involved complicated questions about the interface between competition law and the opening of Latvia’s gas market.

Rūdolfs Eņģelis and Eva Berlaus head the competition team at SORAINEN, which prides itself on active cooperation with decision-making bodies. It was involved in the process of drafting amendments to Latvia’s competition laws in 2015 and 2016 by providing proposals for a client, Latvia’s Association of Commercial Banks.

The practice has recently been involved in several proceedings before Latvia’s competition enforcer, which has seen the practice obtain a fine reduction through leniency, and in a separate case get Talsu Spriegums’ fine cut through active cooperation. In mergers, the firm represented fuel retailer AMIC Latvia during it acquisition of VIADA Baltija, and mobile operator Bite as it acquired Spaineta Latvija.

Andra Rubene heads the competition practice at TARK GRUNTE SUTKIENE. The firm grew after merging with Baltic Legal Solutions, a move that almost doubled the size of Tark Grunte and boosted its competition practice.

Over the last year, Rubene and her team have represented Volvo Truck Latvia during a dispute with client Dinotrans linked to the resale of Volvo trucks; following a settlement, Volvo amended all its sales agreements. Following the enactment of new competition rules targeted at Latvia’s retail sector, the firm has also assisted SCA Hygiene Products on its dealings with retailer RIMI. Rubene has also trained SEB employees on information exchange and industry association participation issues. Tark Grunte acted for Clear Channel Latvia in submitting a complaint to the Competition Council, which led to the enforcer kicking off an investigation of other advertising market participants.

Firm

Head(s) of competition

Size

Who’s Who Legal nominees

Clients

Elite

Cobalt

Dace Silava-Tomsone

1 partner

2 senior associates

1 associate

Ivo Maskalans

Dace Silava-Tomsone

AKKA/LAA, BaltCap, Bite Latvija, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble

Klavins Ellex

Lı¯ga Merwin

1 partner

7 associates

Lı¯ga Merwin

Swedbank, Drogas, Latvijas Ga¯ze, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, Danske Bank, JCDecaux, IBM, Sanofi, Maxima Latvija

Highly recommended

Sorainen

Ru¯dolfs En¸g’elis

Eva Berlaus

2 partners

1 senior associate

1 associate

None

Riga Fertilizer Terminal, Auto Iˉle un Herbst, TV3 Latvia, Food Union Group, Knauf, Uralkali Trading, Alpha Baltic, Armgate

Tark Grunte Sutkiene

Andra Rubene

2 partners

None

Boehringer Ingelheim, Volvo Trucks, SCA Hygiene Products, Swedbank, SEB, Clear Channel, Freeport of Riga Authority, MasterCard, DNB

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