GCR 100 - 19th Edition


Professional notice

Merger ranking10Litigation ranking-Cartel ranking9
Global headNigel Parr
No. of jurisdictions with a GCR-ranked competition team6
Practice size71
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who’s Who Legal24%
Lateral partner hires1
Partner departures0
Former senior enforcers who are partners/counsel3

Ashurst climbs three places in the Global Elite, from 16th last year to 13th in the latest rankings. That jump can be explained by its excellent record in cartels and deal work. Although it has a relatively modest competition practice in terms of size and geographic reach, it continues to handle complex work – much of which attracts headlines in the antitrust press. The firm is able to pack a punch disproportionate to the number of its competition partners, which was boosted in April 2018 with the hire of Michael Holzhäuser from DLA Piper in Germany.

The firm is leading on some important and challenging behavioural work, perhaps most notably having represented Intel in its successful appeal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the General Court’s decision in the rebates case. In September 2017, the ECJ quashed the European Commission’s abuse of dominance decision and the accompanying €1 billion fine – thought to be the enforcer’s first defeat in a dominance case since 1979 – and remitted the case back to the General Court. It also advises Royal Mail in a high-profile and rare abuse of dominance investigation by the UK’s communications regulator, which fined the postal company £50 million in August 2018. It defended Engie against a predatory pricing complaint by Direct Energie before France’s Competition Authority, with the company agreeing one of the first settlement procedures under the Macron law in September 2017.

In cartel work, the team defends an investment bank against five EU cartel probes, having attended a dawn raid on its behalf. It also represents a major tobacco manufacturer in probes in several EU member states. It secured discounts for Berendsen in the UK’s laundry services cartel probe; Ferriera Valsabbia in the Italian rebar cartel investigation; Loyal Coal in an Australian bid-rigging probe; and convinced the Belgian Supreme Court to uphold a lower court’s decision annulling the competition authority’s cement cartel decision against CBR/Heidelberg Cement.

The firm is one of few to balance claimant and defendant private litigation work. It represents Ryder and its subsidiaries in a high-value damages claim following-on from the EU’s trucks cartel decision. It defends Total against a claim brought by Alitalia against several oil companies worth €900 million in Italy; and Google in claims brought by Unlockd in Australia, the UK and the US.

Ashurst also has a thriving merger control practice. In the UK, it advised clients on two separate but simultaneous in-depth reviews: Universal Health Services on its acquisition of Adult Services; and Cardtronics on its buyout of DirectCash Payments. The former was cleared with conditions and the later without.

Ashurst's competition team is a powerhouse across Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Complementing our leading team in London are dedicated experts in Brussels, Paris, Munich, Frankfurt, Milan and Madrid, assisting clients with both pan-European and local competition law challenges. In the Asia-Pacific region, our team provides experienced multi-jurisdictional competition law guidance, assisting clients with Australian, Chinese, Hong Kong, Singaporean and other competition law issues.

The Ashurst competition team has a consistently impeccable pedigree in complex and ground-breaking competition investigations, prosecutions and appeals. Across the practice, we have assisted clients in the most prominent cartel and anti-competitive conduct cases over many years, and most recently in the successful appeal to the ECJ by Intel, which is the most significant Article 102 judgment in more than 40 years. We have also litigated complex matters before the civil courts in follow-on and stand-alone competition damages claims. For example, we are representing Ryder Limited and four other subsidiaries in a £250 million private damages action against 20 defendants arising from the European Commission's decisions in relation to the high-profile trucks cartel, which involved the first application of the Commission's Damages Practice in the UK.

In merger reviews, we have a long history of successfully assisting clients to achieve their commercial objectives, in Europe, Australia, in the UK and across Asia and elsewhere in the increasing number of multi-jurisdictional matters we handle.

In Australia, we lead the field in access to infrastructure regulation, achieving successful outcomes for clients in relation to multibillion-dollar infrastructure assets.

In advising our clients, we seek out risk-based, practical strategies to meet their commercial objectives, to defend their commercial interests and to challenge the anticompetitive behaviour of others.

Our in-house economists remain a unique part of the team's proposition, allowing us to offer clients fully integrated legal and economic expertise. We believe we remain one of the few international law firms with a team of in-house economists, and clients consistently identify this as a key differentiating factor that adds significant value across the board, particularly in complex matters involving detailed economic analysis. This also mirrors the multi-disciplinary structure within the Commission and national competition authorities.

Unlock unlimited access to all Global Competition Review content