EU and Competition Law

Plesner's EU and competition law team is a market leader, especially in relation to complex cases involving significant values. Our highly specialised team work with a conscious focus on genuine teamwork while constantly challenging conceptions, methods and analyses. The team comprises economists and former judges including Bo Vesterdorf, the former president of the General Court of the European Union.

The most experienced team in Denmark

We are a team of highly specialised partners, lawyers and economists with experience from previous employment with the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority, the Danish Public Prosecutor's Department, Danish and European Courts, the Ministry of Justice, the Danish Complaints Board for Public Procurement, the University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School and the corporate sector, including companies such as DONG Energy and Carlsberg.

Plesner's competition law team includes Bo Vesterdorf, the former president of the General Court of the European Union, who served for 18 years as judge, including 10 years (three consecutive terms) as President. As such, he has been instrumental in the development of EU competition law and EU law in general.

Strong economic expertise is a fundamental part of the team's success

Today, economics is a fully integrated and fundamental part of competition law, and economic theory and analysis constitute an important part of daily work in this area. Consequently, Plesner's competition law team includes a number of economists with the highly specialised and solid skills required to handle the complex economic approach of competition law practice. Experience has shown that the close interaction between the team's economists and lawyers creates outstanding value for the clients including the comprehensive strategic considerations surrounding, for instance, complex cartel cases and damages cases.  

The team is a market leader, especially in relation to the most complex cases

Plesner has been involved in most of the important cartel cases investigated by the Danish competition authorities and the majority of EU cartel cases involving Danish companies. Plesner is the only Danish law firm which has participated in both the European Commission's leniency and cartel settlement procedures.

We have experience from a significant number of the most important cases concerning abuse of a dominant position, including the largest ever abuse case in Denmark.

The team are involved in a number of significant competition law-related damages actions, including the largest ever cartel-related damages action in Denmark and the largest ever damages action in Denmark relating to abuse of a dominant position. The team are also involved in a number of cartel related damages actions abroad, including in the US, Canada, the UK and Germany.

The team have been involved in some of the most complicated merger control cases, including cases involving remedies in the form of divestitures, and have vast knowledge of all aspects of Danish and EU merger control. The team were involved in one of the largest ever private placements in Europe.

The team's experience from the Danish courts and from the Danish Public Prosecutor is important in criminal cases. Plesner has successfully defended clients in court against criminal charges by the Danish Public Prosecutor.

In addition, from his time at the General Court of the European Union, former judge Bo Vesterdorf has unique and extensive experience with international cartels (for example Polypropylene and Cartonboard), some of the most important abuse cases (for example Hilti, Magill and Microsoft) and merger control cases (for example Gencor, Airtours, and Tetra Laval).

Other areas of team experience include all types of agreements, state aid and compliance as important parts of the work.

Highlights

  • Danfoss A/S - defended Danfoss in the refrigeration compressors case involving investigations by the European Commission, the US authorities and several other national competition authorities. It was one of the first cartel cases to be settled under the European Commission's new settlement procedure. The team also coordinates and is highly involved in follow-on damages actions, both individual and class actions, in multiple jurisdictions
  • KODA - successfully defended the Danish collecting society before the General Court of the European Union in the appeal of the European Commission's decision on alleged restrictive practices among the collecting societies (CISAC)
  • DSV A/S - involved in the cross-Atlantic investigation in the aftermath of Air Cargo and assistance with subsequent class action damages litigation
  • The local banks case - successfully defended seven Danish banks in the local banks case. All serious allegations by the Danish Competition Authority against the seven banks as to cartel activities, agreements on market partitioning and price coordination were dismissed by the Danish Competition Appeals Tribunal
  • Dansk Rørindustri - defended Dansk Rørindustri in the pre-insulated pipes case, one of the first EU cartel cases involving a Danish company. The case established a number of important principles of EU competition law
  • DONG Energy A/S - defended DONG Energy, Elsam and E2 in a number of complex court cases against the Danish Competition Appeals Tribunal concerning the alleged excessive pricing on the electricity spot market in Denmark and in relation to the follow-on damages claims from more than 1,100 companies. The complex is the largest ever in Denmark
  • Victor Hasselblad AB - successfully defended Victor Hasselblad AB in a European Commission investigation regarding Hasselblad’s alleged refusal to license essential IP rights and bundling of products – similar to the Microsoft case. After several years of investigation, the complaint was rejected by the European Commission
  • E2 - successfully defended E2 in an excessive pricing case where the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority has been quoted for saying that it was one of the most wide-ranging cases, which the Authority had handled in recent years
  • Skandinavisk Motor Co. A/S - successfully defended the client in court against an abuse related damages claim
  • Statoil Fuel & Retail - assisted Statoil Fuel & Retail in its acquisition of Shell's retail and non-retail business
  • EY - assisted in the acquisition of KPMG Denmark. The merger was approved in phase II by the Danish Competition Council subject to commitments
  • A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S - assisted in connection with the sale to DFDS of Norfolk Holdings, and A.P. Møller - Mærsk's acquisition of a minority shareholding in DFDS
  • Telenor - assisted in combining with Telia - the parties' radio access network to build the joint network involving the 2G, 3G and 4G (LTE) networks
  • Nordic Capital - assisted in the acquisition of the retail chain Sportmaster, the largest Danish retail chain in sports articles involving more than 40 formerly separate undertakings
  • Post Danmark A/S - assisted the national Danish postal operator with the EU merger notification of its merger with its Swedish counterpart, which included advice on commitments and trustee appointment
  • DONG Energy A/S - assisted the state-owned company in the contribution by, inter alia, Goldman Sachs of capital in DONG Energy. This was one of the largest ever in Europe. The work involved state aid advice and merger notification to the European Commission
  • FIH Erhvervsbank A/S - assisted in relation to the agreement with Finansiel Stabilitet (the Danish State) relating to bank rescue scheme number 5 and the subsequent notification of this aid with the European Commission
  • Innovation Fund Denmark - assisting the largest state-owned foundation in Denmark, Innovation Fund Denmark, in creating a pragmatic and state aid compliant IPR frame-work for the foundation's funds to private companies and universities for the development of new and important technologies
  • Skandinavisk Motor Co. A/S - successfully represented the importer of Audi in the European Court of Justice's case C-125/05 Vulcan Silkeborg regarding the interpretation of the motor vehicle block exemption regulation
  • Levi's - successfully defended Levi's in court against criminal charges by the Danish Public Prosecutor. Levi's was charged with illegal resale price maintenance, but Levi's was correctly acquitted
  • Weber-Stephen Nordic ApS - successfully defended Weber-Stephen Nordic in a case where the Danish Public Prosecutor investigated allegations from the Danish Competition and Consumer Authority that Weber-Stephen Nordic illegally tried to influence retailer's resale price

Ratings

  • Renowned practice with exceptional expertise in complex cases related to abuse of dominance, damages and merger control. Acts on the full range of competition mandates, including cases with criminal aspects. Also noted for its experience in cartel cases and private placements. Clients gain access to the team's in-house economists, as well as lawyers with previous experience working in the Danish Competition & Consumer Authority. Recent work includes numerous cross-border merger filings and follow-on damages claims. Frequently engaged by financial institutions, government entities and utilities companies.

    "Extremely skilled lawyers who think strategically"

    "Very responsive and business-minded" (2019)
  • Within EU and competition, Plesner is a first tier firm.

    The three-partner department at Plesner is "among the best, if not the best" and handles the full array of competition law matters. It is praised for its "meticulous analysis of legal issues and understanding of complex facts". (2018)
  • Plesner is rated in the elite category.

    Plesners’s Danish competition practice enjoys an excellent reputation among its peers, largely thanks to practice head Gitte Holtsø and partner Christian Karhula Lauridsen. They work alongside partner Daniel Barry, senior consultant Bo Vesterdorf – a former judge of the European Court of Justice, who also consults for Herbert Smith Freehills in Brussels – nine associates and two economists. All together they provide competition advice to a range of high-profile international and domestic clients, and have worked on some of the largest and most complex competition cases in Denmark to date. (2018)
  • "The best in competition law".

    Impressed by the team's commitment and endurance on lengthy and demanding cases - "they never ran out of steam and enjoyed it all along". (2018)
  • Renowned practice with exceptional expertise in complex cases related to abuse of dominance, damages and merger control. Acts on the full range of competition mandates, including cases with criminal aspects. Also noted for its experience in cartel cases and private placements. Clients benefit from the lawyers' previous experience working in the national and European courts, as well as the Danish Competition & Consumer Authority.

    "They know our issues and can anticipate our needs. They have so many capable people in different areas and always provide the right expertise. They are also available and responsive."

    "We use them when we feel we need specialist knowledge. They are very thorough and provide a high level of service." (2017)
  • Within EU and competition, Plesner is a first tier firm

    Plesner's "very good" team primarily handles cartel investigations, merger control, state aid and abuse of dominance matters. (2017)
  • "We are extremely satisfied. The lawyers are available, timely and responsive."
    "The follow-up on cases is good and structured, and there is good communication between partners. There has never been any delay in delivering."
    "We consider it to be one of the best full-service firms."
    (2016)
  • Within EU and competition, Plesner is a first tier firm.

    Plesner's "highly specialised and experienced" competition law group has "extensive knowledge" of a broad range of industry sectors. (2016)

  • Plesner is rated in the elite category.

    Practice head Gitte Holtsø and partner Christian Karhula Lauridsen at Plesner enjoy excellent reputations. The firm also benefits from the expertise of former Court of First Instance judge Bo Vesterdorf, who is senior counsel. Overall, the group boasts a range of legal experience from the authority, the Danish public prosecutor’s office and the European Commission. (2015)
  • Standout team advising on complex, high-value cases with multi-jurisdictional aspects. Covers a diverse range of competition and procurement issues, acting on mergers, cartel and abuse of dominance cases. The team offers specific expertise relating to proceedings before the Danish Complaints Board for Public Procurement. (2015)
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