International law firms top competition rankingRanking 2017-04-12
Regulatory law firms ranking - competition issues
Competition law is more than UOKiK. Lawyers handling anti-monopoly issues traditionally represent companies before the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK). It relates both to cases of abusing dominant position, anti-collusion, as well as filings related to planned mergers. However, significant share of projects the competition law teams deal with is not related to administrative proceedings. Lawyers assist in ensuring compliance of distribution models, price policies, and end-user agreements with requirements of the competition and consumer protection legislation.
Numerous consumer cases. Last year UOKiK intensified its activity in cases of group consumer interests, especially against banks and telecoms. The office has already issued decisions against Getin Noble Bank and Alior Bank, as well as telecom operators Orange, T-Mobile, and Plus. Smaller and medium-sized law firms specialise in proceedings before UOKiK. Merger-related processes are an exception and include international law firms. Filing for an approval by UOKiK by an anti-monopoly team is usually a result of transaction advisory carried out by an M&A team at the same firm.
Several notable promotions. After creation of numerous anti-monopoly boutique firms (including Modzelewska & Paśnik in 2013 and Hansberry Tomkiel in 2014) not a single one was created last year. However, two prominent promotions took place: Bartosz Turno joined Aleksander Stawicki as a partner responsible for competition law at WKB and Justyna Michalik was promoted to a position of counsel at Allen & Overy’s anti-monopoly team. In April Antoni Bolecki from Greenberg Traurig became a partner at Hansberry Tomkiel. Meanwhile, former head of UOKiK’s competition protection department Agata Zawłocka-Turno joined Linklaters’ competition law team led by Małgorzata Szwaj.
New faces: Affre and Kolasiński. Three international law firms are at the top of competition law practices (Allen & Overy, Linklaters, and Dentons) and a single Polish one (SK&S). WKB has dropped into a second group, but adding Bartosz Truno as a partner indicates the law firm’s leadership is still focusing on anti-monopoly law and the firm could return to the top tier next year. Modzelewska & Paśnik law firm advanced to second group from the third. Among newcomers (commended law firms) are Kieszkowska Rutkowski Kolasiński with Marcin Kolasiński responsible for competition law, and Affre and Wspólnicy.
Cement-making cartel goes to the Tribunal. One of 2016’s biggest successes for anti-monopoly law firms was to convince the Appellate Court in Warsaw to motion the Constitutional Tribunal on behalf of top cement-making companies in Poland. In 2009 UOKiK fined the enterprises one of the highest-ever competition law based fines (PLN 412 million in total). The enterprises are requesting review of a clause which allows fines to be calculated based on revenue from a year prior to the decision. Cemex Polska is represented by Allen & Overy while Lafarge Cement by Clifford Chance. On significant M&As Linklaters advised Synthos in proceedings before the European Commission related to an approval to acquire INEOS Styrenics.
Beside traditional cases the competition law teams will be also dealing with two laws prepared by the current ruling party - one regarding seeking damages by breaking competition law, and the other on countering abuse of contractual advantage in agricultural products and food trade. The first law will facilitate filings for damages from competitors based on competition law alone and the second is to increase UOKiK’s vigilance on food and agriculture market.
*The ranking includes law firms active in the area of regulatory advisory, that is related to public corporate law that is being enforced by such institutions as UOKiK, URE, or KNF. An award ceremony took place on March 23, with winning firms receiving awards. It is the first ranking in Poland accounting for qualitative data. Results are based on survey data gathered by PI analysts among the biggest companies from regulated sectors and law firms themselves.