James Quinney, formerly of the European Commission and UK Department of Trade and Industry in the 1990s, sits at the head of the excellent Herbert Smith Freehills competition practice. The firm remains rare among the Global Elite in that it claims no significant antitrust work in the US. Instead, it centres its antitrust practice in London, Brussels and the Australian cities of Sydney and Melbourne, with an impressive presence across Europe and Asia. Quinney is one of nine attorneys at the firm with past experience at various antitrust authorities, so it is no wonder that Herbert Smith remains a mainstay among the world’s most elite.
|Merger ranking||-||Litigation ranking||-||Cartel ranking||-|
|Global heads||James Quinney|
|Number of jurisdictions with a competition team||8|
|Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal||50|
|Lateral partner hires||0|
Among non-confidential merger matters, Herbert Smith advised Telefónica on the European Commission’s high profile Phase II investigation into the £10.25 billion sale of its UK mobile business (O2) to Hutchison Whampoa (the owner of Three in the UK). The firm also counselled AbbVie on the competition law and merger control aspects of its proposed £32 billion acquisition of Shire, which at the time was the largest-ever inward investment into the UK. Herbert Smith frequently advises third parties to mergers, such as tenpin bowling operator Essenden regarding the tie-up of rivals The Original Bowling Company and Bowlplex, including negotiations with the companies and the Competition and Markets Authority – with the result that the CMA approved Essenden as the divestiture buyer.
Herbert Smith acted for a client in the European Commission’s far-reaching and high-profile investigations of the alleged manipulations of the European Interbank Offered Rate, foreign exchange rate and precious metals trading. When Germany’s Federal Cartel Office investigated alleged price fixing between branded goods manufacturers and supermarkets in Germany and Austria, the firm had a hand as well. Several major international companies called upon Herbert Smith and its extensive Australian practice to obtain conditional immunity and to meet their ongoing obligations under the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s leniency policy.
The firm maintains a strong private enforcement practice as well, acting both in follow-on damages proceedings against companies that regulators found to have engaged in anticompetitive conduct and stand-alone challenges to allegedly anticompetitive behaviour. The UK and German practices work together to provide important cross-border counsel to the firm’s clients on European Commission investigations.