A number of attorneys at the firm have previously worked for the French Competition Council (predecessor to the French Competition Authority) as well as the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition and the competition team of its Legal Service.

Lawyers of the firm frequently counsel companies in all matters of cartels and abuse of dominant positions before the French Competition Authority in Paris and the European Commission in Brussels, in both French and European Union competition law. We also represent these companies in litigation before French courts and, depending on the case, the Court of Justice of the European Union, either as plaintiffs or as defendants on competition law issues.

Through its experience and deep knowledge of institutions, COUTRELIS & ASSOCIES is at the heart of current reflections on the adaptation of competition policy to new issues.

Thus, in the digital age, competition law must ensure the protection of effective competition in innovative sectors such as: platforms, online sales, algorithms, collection and study of mass data (big data), artificial intelligence and blockchain. Competition law must notably ensure that the rise of dominant technological innovation companies in these markets does not prevent the emergence of companies and technologies competing with these Bigtechs. In addition, competition law must constantly protect consumers, particularly with regard to the collection and management of personal data. The European data protection regulation (“GDPR”) constitutes a first legislative base in this area. To this end, adjustments to the rules of competition law are currently being considered, in particular concerning the concept of "relevant market".

Furthermore, the right to obtain compensation for the damage suffered from a cartel or an abuse of a dominant position has recently been reinforced by the creation in French law of class actions as well as the adoption at the European Union level of Directive 2014/104 of November 26, 2014, “on certain rules governing actions for damages under national law for infringements of the competition law provisions of the Member States and of the European Union”. This text intends to facilitate the implementation of compensatory actions by victims of the infractions and harmonizes a number of rules on this subject in Member States. In France, the Directive was transposed on March 9, 2017, by the Ordonnance n°2017-303 and the Décret n°2017-305. Lawyers at the firm regularly handle cases involving compensation for damages resulting from anticompetitive practices and have recently published an article pertaining to the improvements brought to consensual dispute resolutions within the context of actions for damages due to anticompetitive practices by the November 26, 2014, Directive.

The European Commission has noted that the risk of breaches of Union law adversely affecting the collective interests of consumers is constantly increasing and has helped to facilitate collective redress mechanisms, in particular to compensate actions for damages relating to infringements competition law. It has therefore published a Recommendation on common principles applicable to collective redress mechanisms for injunctive and compensatory collective redress in the Member States concerning violation of rights granted by Union law (2013/396 / EU).

The firm also enjoys a solid reputation regarding consensual dispute resolution in competition law cases. These mechanisms are quicker, simpler and more discreet and can offer a serious alternative to procedures before a judge.

Finally, the firm’s experience regarding these different procedures allows us to create an efficient dispute resolution strategy, tailored to the client’s needs. Indeed, antitrust requires a particularly precise knowledge of the integration of European Union and domestic laws. Indeed, the provisions of Articles L.420-1 and L.420-2 of the French "Code de Commerce" and their counterparts Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) are to a large extent similar on the merits. However, their scope is complementary: French law exclusively governs situations that are purely domestic whereas both French and European Union law are applicable before French tribunals and the French Competition Authority as soon as a conduct has a potential anticompetitive effect on trade between Member States. On the other hand, the European Commission generally handles exclusively the most significant Community cases, under review by the European Court of Justice. National Competition Authorities handle the rest of the cases which are allocated within the European Competition Network (ECN) pursuant to the rules provided for in Regulation 1/2003 and depending on which Member State is the center of gravity of the case.

Over the past years, national competition authorities have made an increasingly frequent use of their power to handle cases involving European Union law. As a result, appellate national jurisdictions have increasingly referred questions to the Court of Justice of the European Union for preliminary rulings. These questions often involve substantive issues on the interpretation of competition law but also frequently involve issues of procedure and allocation of powers between national competition authorities and the European Commission. COUTRELIS & ASSOCIES’ experience in procedure-related matters before the Court of Justice of the European Union is often sought after in these matters, even when they appear to be purely “national”.

Lawyers of the firm are frequently published on antitrust issues. The firm was also an active participant in the debates launched by the French Competition Authority on the setting of financial penalties in which we submitted comments and were stakeholders at the dedicated “Rendez-vous de l'Autorité” conference.

Finally, a number of attorneys at the firm are members of the antitrust section of the International Bar Association which, in addition to their American law education, enables them to have a global understanding of all legal and economic issues of competition law. Indeed, the implementation of competition law is increasingly evolving beyond the scope of the aforementioned ECN to more international cooperation with antitrust authorities in the United States and other countries, particularly within the increasingly active International Competition Network (ICN).

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