GCR 100 2020

14. Ashurst

14. Ashurst

Professional notice

Merger ranking-Litigation ranking-Cartel ranking4
Global headNigel Parr
No. of jurisdictions with a GCR-ranked competition team6
Practice size86
Percentage of partners/counsel in Who's Who Legal18%
Lateral partner hires0
Partner departures0
Former senior enforcers who are partners/counsel6

Ashurst has firmly established itself as a regular fixture in the Global Elite. The firm’s solid team of 21 partners and 17 counsel has an excellent cartel record, while also having a hand in some interesting merger cases.

The Australian team is representing Aurizon in the sale of its Queensland intermodal business to Pacific National and Linfox, and in the rail freight company’s separate sale of a rail terminal to Pacific National. Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission sought an injunction to prevent Aurizon from closing down its Queensland intermodal business, but Ashurst successfully defended the company in court proceedings. The enforcer has appealed against the court’s decision. In another big Australian case, the firm assisted media company Nine in securing unconditional clearance for its acquisition of Fairfax, in a deal that merged two of Australia’s most well-known media brands.

The firm has also led on some important behavioural work. It represented Royal Mail in the postal company’s appeal against a €58 million abuse of dominance fine from the UK’s Office of Communications. The UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal upheld the agency’s decision in November 2019, finding that Royal Mail’s intention to raise a rival’s costs amounted to an abuse.

In litigation, Ashurst’s Australian team defended Google against allegations from application developer Unlockd, which claimed the technology company misused its market power when it removed Unlockd’s apps from its Play Store. Unlockd filed for bankruptcy during the proceedings and its administrators dropped the case before a final hearing. In Spain, the firm is advising Hyundai in a damages claim following on from a price-fixing cartel probe. The sprawling litigation arising from the Trucks cartel is keeping the team busy too: it is advising transport company Ryder and a subsidiary in a UK follow-on claim, which was at the preliminary issue stage at the time of writing.

Other notable work includes advising Google in the ACCC’s Digital Platforms inquiry. The Australian authority’s final report, released in July 2019, included 11 recommendations aiming to address Google’s and Facebook’s market power. The European Commission’s increased focus on fiscal state aid issues has seen Ashurst advise Luxembourg’s government in all its ongoing state aid investigations before the commission and the EU General Court, including the Fiat, Amazon and Engie cases. In September 2019, the General Court upheld the EU enforcer’s finding that Luxembourg granted illegal state aid to Fiat Chrysler.

Ashurst's integrated team of lawyers and economists combines dedicated experts who assist clients with multi-jurisdictional and local competition law challenges across Europe and in the Asia-Pacific region. We advise clients across all industries including Energy & Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Digital Economy, Financial Services and Real Estate. 

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 high profile multinational clients in the most prominent cartel and anti-competitive conduct cases over many years, including some of the largest value EU abuse of dominance cases and various ground-breaking cartel cases. One of our prominent cases involves representing a global transportation and supply management company in one of the largest follow-on damages actions in the UK arising from the European Commission's Trucks cartel decisions.

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

Ashurst has cutting edge knowledge and experience in relation to state aid law, advising clients on financial restructuring, and at European level before the European Commission and European courts. In addition, we advise a wide variety of public authorities, providers and private utility purchasers in relation to public procurement law.

In advising our clients, we seek out risk-based, practical strategies to meet their commercial objectives and defend their commercial interests.

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 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 teams fielded by regulators.

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