Since Spain joined the European Union and, in particular, since Law 15/2007 on the Protection of Competition was approved, Spain has benefited from a sophisticated and demanding regime for the protection of competition. The competition authorities have been very active and aggressive in their inspections, investigations, prosecution and sanctioning of cartels, agreements and practices restricting competition and abusing monopoly positions, and in the control of mergers. There have been a large number of surprise inspections and dawn raids over the last few years on all sorts of companies in a diverse range of economic sectors.
As is well known, the penalties in this area can amount to 10% of the turnover of the companies affected, while sanctions against company directors are also possible, as is damage to the company’s image and its good name in the industry where it operates.
In this context what is needed is not only good legal advice when a company is subject to surprise inspections, requests for information by the competition authorities, or sanctions or penalties, but also prior advice that limits the risks of a breach of the competition regulations and the correct prior training for management and employees of the company so that they know how to act and what to avoid in their relationships with clients, suppliers, competitors and industry associations.
The Competition Law Department in LUPICINIO INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM has a large specialized team of lawyers and economists who are experienced in advising domestic and multinational companies in diverse business sectors (including the industrial, pharmaceutical, food, chemical, banking, automobile, consumer, transport and paper sectors). The Department also has experts in regulations and legislative compliance which means they can advise and provide our clients with practical and viable solutions to the complex competition law issues that affect them from a legal, economic and sectorial perspective.
As the only Spanish member of the Antitrust Alliance, LUPICINIO directs and coordinates international projects (inspections, sanctions proceedings and merger operations) affected by EU regulations and/or national competition regulations, and counts on a wide network of law firms who are specialized in competition law and located in major jurisdictions.
In order to provide comprehensive solutions to the needs of our clients in the area of competition law, which starts with training and preventative measures, continues with ongoing advice on the day-to-day operations of the company, and can end up with the defense of their interests against the competition authorities, our services cover the following issues:
Seminars and training courses on prevention
We have extensive experience preparing and giving courses and seminars to train clients in the prevention of practices and conduct that infringe competition laws. These courses are specifically targeted towards managers, internal advisors and other departments within the company (commercial department, marketing etc.) and focus on the main questions that affect the client’s business activities.
Guidelines and internal rules of conduct
We have developed guidelines and codes of conduct for competition law that can be applied in large companies and international groups. These rules provide guidance and help for employees in their internal relationships and external contact with clients, suppliers and competitors.
Legal audits and dawn raids
Over the years we have developed a system that, in a short space of time and without affecting our client’s business activities, simulates a real competition inspection mimicking the inspections the competition authorities perform, which includes an audit of the company to detect and correct contracts, practices and conduct that could unfairly restrict competition, highlighting these issues to managers and employees.
Ongoing advice in competition law
– Cartels and anti-competitive agreements: We advise our clients on the need to evaluate their own contracts, general conditions, pricing policies, discounts, sharing of information with third parties, agreements and conduct with clients, suppliers and competitors. We analyze the relationships with competitors and industry associations to avoid situations where the client could be considered part of a cartel.
– Leniency programs: We analyze the possibility of starting leniency programs, and if not, we advise our clients when their competitors start such programs against them.
– Abuse of dominant market position: Since a dominant market position may mean a company is at a higher risk of breaching competition regulations, we analyze its agreements, practices and conduct to limit this risk as much as possible, while adopting the necessary preventative measures to avoid situations of abuse, and allowing the company with a dominant market position to develop its business legitimately.
– Competition inspections and dawn raids: In recent years we have helped our clients with more than a dozen surprise inspections carried out at their offices by EU and Spanish competition authorities. Prior training and our immediate presence at these inspections from the beginning helps prevent any possible penalties since we can establish a better defense.
– Unfair competition: Despite the fact there are different rules and procedures governing unfair competition and the protection of competition, we are able to analyze both in order to make sure our clients are in full compliance when carrying out their normal business activities.
We can analyze economic merger operations from a legal and economic perspective to assess its implications for the market. We advise whether it is necessary to notify the competition authorities of the operation, and if it is, we can prepare this notification and advise the client throughout the process. Also, where required we can negotiate with the authorities when it is necessary to find a compromise to obtain approval for the merger.
Proceedings before the competition authorities
Our team benefits from more than 20 years of experience handling and defending our clients’ interests in various types of legal proceedings (sanctions and penalties, clemency, economic mergers and state aid) in which our clients may have been affected as the claimant or defendant or proceedings brought by the competition authorities.