Competition & EU Law

contrast has extensive experience representing clients in competition and EU law matters and is ranked in Band 1 for competition (Belgium) by Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500

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contrast has one of the largest and most experienced independent competition and EU law teams in Brussels.

The team is recommended by the leading independent legal directories, including Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500, Global Competition Review and PLC Which Lawyer, who describe it as having an impressive record, an outstanding level of competition law expertise and an ability to handle the most diverse competition and EU law matters.

The team is regularly called upon to assist other lawyers seeking independent and specialized competition and EU law advice, and it has particular expertise in competition and EU law litigation. Members of the team assisted the European Commission, the Kingdom of Belgium, as well as private (leniency) applicants, complainants, defendants and intervening parties in many cases, including interim measures cases, before the EU and national competition authorities and courts.

Filip Tuytschaever is professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Brussels (VUB), where he teaches competition law. Frank Wijckmans is professor at the Brussels School of Competition. Several of our Competition and EU law team members served as an intern in the Directorate General for Competition and the Legal Service of the European Commission.

Restrictive practices

The Competition & EU team of contrast has extensive experience in the field of restrictive practices and is specialised in developing tailor-made competition law compliance programs for its clients (private companies and trade associations). It conducts in-house training sessions on competition law developments on a very regular basis.

contrast has specialised expertise in various sectors, including the automotive, retail and petroleum sectors, as well as in the sectors of construction, sport, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, consumer products (white and brown goods), the food industry, and service industries such as the airlines and travel businesses.

 

Horizontal agreements

The Competition & EU team drafts and advises on the competition law implications of horizontal cooperation agreements, including joint venture agreements, specialization agreements, production, purchasing and commercialization agreements, R&D agreements, environmental agreements, including waste management agreements, and standardization agreements. 

contrast assists companies and trade associations in the structuring of their information exchanges and access to competitor information in line with competition law requirements. 

contrast has an outstanding level of competition law expertise and the ability to handle the most diverse issues, and is recommended for its high level of partner involvement.

Legal 500

Vertical agreements

The Competition & EU team has particular expertise in the field of distribution law in general and motor vehicle distribution in particular.

contrast assists clients on questions relating to their distribution strategy and advises on the deployment and restructuring of distribution networks. contrast has extensive experience in setting up customized multi-jurisdictional exclusive, non-exclusive and selective distribution networks. contrast handles all distribution law-related litigation and has successfully dealt with several prominent cases involving the specific Belgian legislation on the termination of exclusive distributors.

The Competition & EU team has published widely on the topic of distribution law and the block exemption regulation on vertical restraints and on motor vehicle distribution. Frank Wijckmans and Filip Tuytschaever wrote a monograph, ‘Vertical Agreements in EU Competition Law’, which is published by one of the world’s leading legal publishers, Oxford University Press. This monograph has become a reference work since its first publication in 2006. A second edition of the book was published in 2011. In 2012, the same authors wrote a monograph in Dutch on ‘Distribution Agreements in Competition Law’, which was published by Larcier.

Cartels and abuse of dominant position

The Competition & EU team counseled in the first full-fledged abuse of monopoly power case under the Belgian Competition Act more than 20 years ago. Ever since, we have been assisting clients in cartel and abuse of dominance cases almost on a daily basis.

The experience of the Competition & EU team encompasses all stages of Belgian and EU competition law proceedings: complaints and, for cartels, multi-jurisdictional leniency applications, dawn raid assistance, written proceedings, requests for interim measures, oral hearings and appeals.

contrast represented the European Commission before the EU courts in the Elevators and Escalators and in Dutch Bitumen. At the EU level, contrast acted in Acrylic Glass and International Movers, and the investigation into the commercial vehicles sector. contrast successfully represented Panini against a complaint for alleged abuse of dominance. At the Belgian level, contrast represented clients in Steel Plate Radiators, BSE Tests, the investigation into travel agents and into the food retail sector (confectionary and cosmetics), and Lead Surcharge. 

Merger control

The Competition & EU team represents clients in merger filings at the Belgian and EU level and provides a one-stop shop service to clients by co-ordinating multi-jurisdictional notifications.

contrast represents clients in straightforward acquisitions and in the creation of joint ventures. contrast has handled first and second phase proceedings at the national level and before the European Commission, including referral to the EU level for one-stop-shop purposes. contrast successfully protected clients against the imposition of conditions for merger approval and has successfully intervened in merger proceedings to obtain commitments from the notifying parties.

 

State aid

The Competition & EU team represents private clients and public authorities, including governmental agencies, in State aid cases before the national courts, the European Commission and the EU courts. 

contrast handles all related litigation, including appeals before the EU courts (on issues such as the concept of State aid and the measurement of the aid intensity), as well as litigation aimed at the private enforcement of the State aid rules before the national courts. 

The lawyers have a practical touch and put things into context, boiling down theory into guidance that can be windely applied.

Chambers Europe

EU Law

The Competition & EU team assists clients on EU internal market law and its implementation by the EU Member States. Its EU regulatory experience covers all aspects of the internal market, including its external dimension.

contrast advises clients on many internal market issues relating to the free movement of goods, to product safety requirements under the new approach directives (machinery, electrical equipment, PPE) and the construction products regulation, to consumer protection, labeling and product documentation, CE marking, harmonized standards (CEN, CENELEC), European Assessment Documents and European Technical Approvals (EOTA) and environmental legislation (RoHS, WEEE).

contrast successfully represented companies in administrative proceedings concerning corrective actions, including product recalls, in several EU Member States.

contrast advises in the field of the free movement of services. 

contrast has expertise in EU customs law, particularly on import-related matters, and assisted the European Commission in an important number of customs law cases (tariff classification, remission of customs duties) before the EU Courts. 

In 2014 and 2015, the Competition & EU team of contrast acted as outside legal counsel to the European Banking Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority. 

Competition & EU Law Litigation

The Competition & EU team is very active in the field of competition and EU law litigation.

Filip Tuytschaever and Frank Wijckmans have acted in more than 50 cases before the EU Courts, representing private parties as appellants or intervening parties, as well as the Kingdom of Belgium, the European Commission, the European Banking Authority and the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority, in annulment actions and preliminary ruling cases.

contrast is systematically active in competition and EU law cases before the Belgian Competition Authority and the Belgian courts.