Find Lawyers in Cologne, Germany for Competition / Antitrust Law

Practice Area Overview

Most economic systems are based on the idea of market economy. The aim of Competition Law/Antitrust Law is to guarantee effective competition as an essential element of market economy and thereby to ensure that demand and supply meet at reasonable prices and to protect the interests of consumers (consumer welfare).

Therefore the provisions of Competition Law seek to regulate anti-competitive practices as agreements or concerted practices restricting free competition (e.g. cartels), abusive behaviour of market actors holding dominant market position (such as excessive pricing, predatory pricing, tying, refusal to deal, fidelity rebates, or discrimination) or practices tending to lead to dominant positions and mergers and acquisitions including joint ventures of market actors which are considered to threaten effective competition.

The legal regulations to be met in the field of Competition law by global market actors are challenging as most regulation is subject to national law what necessarily leads to a restricted territorial scope of application and variation in substance and practice between national markets. Due to general expansions of competition authorities' activities as well as closer communication and collaboration of national authorities, compliance with national and international legal requirements is even more important than before. Agreements falling foul of any applicable competition laws may be considered void irrespective of the location of the parties or the laws governing the contract. Serious infringements such as price-fixing between competitors, resale price maintenance, or exclusionary practices by dominant undertakings may lead to substantial fines. As fines get more severe any violation of Competition Law cause enormous financial burden and may even result in liquidation. Companies' representatives have to be aware of the fact that competitive authorities may impose fines for anti-competitive practices on themselves and moreover, that some of these practices even constitute crimes and may lead to imprisonment.

Attorneys in the field Competition Law assist in detecting and understanding the applicable provisions and advise on compliance in a multitude of cases. Attorneys' work include e.g. advice in preparation of mergers (including challenging cross-border-mergers) and joint ventures as well as guidance in establishing compliance programs and – ongoing – regarding compliance in business relationships. Furthermore guidance in market definition may be necessary to detect dominant market positions.

Moreover, they assist both individuals and companies with challenges of authorities and claims for damages by competitors. Attorneys take over representation in litigation and act as defence lawyers before authorities and may advise in preparing settlements. Often they will be called to represent companies' interest in ongoing inquiries but also for guidance in starting inquiries by applying for leniency.

Dr. Christian Bahr Fieldfisher

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