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France: Competition & Economists 2016

The French Competition Authority has continued to utilise its powers to full effect. A high level of antitrust enforcement and record fines were imposed on infringers last year. The authority signalled its continuing intent at the end of 2015 by fining Orange €350 million, the largest against a single company in the authority’s history. Meanwhile, 20 delivery companies were fined €672 million for coordinating price hikes and surcharges – the second highest fine by the authority in recent years. 

Lawyers

This year, we recognised 46 leading competition lawyers.

Bredin Prat has one of the most prominent standings among independent firms in Europe for competition law and its practice is widely held to be “the best in France”. Head of the practice Robert Saint-Esteben is “a veteran” of competition law, who many regard to be “in a class of his own”. Hugues Calvet is referred to as “a master of antitrust litigation” and someone who is “unfaltering in the representation of his clients”. Olivier Billard is “certainly a standout lawyer” and “a highly lucid counsel” according to peers. He has recently been very active in cartel investigations and major state aid cases before the European Commission. Marie-Cécile Rameau is “an up-and-coming star at the firm”, who sources find “erudite and dedicated”.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher has “a magnificent competition practice” and the best among the US law firms, according to our research. Jacques-Philippe  Gunther heads the firm’s European competition law practice and is regarded as “a superstar and at the very peak of his powers”. He is very active before the competition authorities and the courts in cartel, abuse of dominance and merger control matters. David Tayar is described as “outstanding” and “one of the best out of the new generation” of French competition lawyers. He is particularly active in the pharmaceutical sector, and recently acted on Teva’s acquisition of Allegan Generics.

Linklaters receives a copious amount of endorsements for its “preeminent” Paris-based competition team, which regularly acts on high-profile cartel, abuse of dominance, state aid and merger control matters with an international dimension. Anne Wachsmann is unanimously held as “an authority” in the market. She is particularly praised for her “unerring” performances in antitrust litigation by clients. Pierre Zelenko is “a very strong all-rounder”, with particular praise lavished on “his deep understanding of the economics underlying competition cases” and his “amazing commitment to serving his clients’ needs”.

Gide Loyrette Nouel has a large team of competition lawyers who often handle high-end mergers and antitrust investigations; three practitioners stand out in particular. Antoine Choffel is “the top competition lawyer at the firm” and is widely seen as “a star of the bar”. Yann Utzschneider is a competition and distribution law expert, who is particularly noted for his expertise in the consumer goods, retail and banking sectors. Sources advise that “he is practical and commercially sensitive in his approach”. Emmanuel Reille has a growing profile in our research; as one source noted, “You see him increasingly active in the big cases, and he is very popular with his clients.”

Clifford Chance is strongly established in the French market and the Paris office is very active in national and European cartel matters, abuse of dominance position cases and merger control investigations. Patrick Hubert is extensively experienced and is said to be “one of the most knowledgeable and insightful experts in practice”. Michel Petite is “a noted luminary in the field”, having previously been a longstanding legal adviser to the European Commission. Emmanuel Durand impresses with a number of sources noting that “he is becoming a big name”. He is especially prevalent in antitrust litigation in the media, telecoms, sports, consumer goods and manufacturing industries.

Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier is a medium-sized independent law firm in Paris with a highly specialised and dedicated competition team able to act on major cross-border transactions before the French authority and the Commission, as well as on complex antitrust litigation. The team is co-led by Didier Théophile, who is regularly seen as “top-tier”. Many respondents also share the opinion that he is “a pleasure to work with”. Alongside him, Igor Simic is recognised as “one of the best” in France. According to sources, “He handles matters with superb efficiency and skill.”

Vogel & Vogel is a very well-known competition and distribution law boutique, whose founders are highly regarded for their expertise, particularly in the automobile sector. Joseph  Vogel is extensively experienced before national and European competition authorities with over 25 years in practice. He is an “exceptional lawyers” with “great connections” and a number of noteworthy mandates. Louis  Vogel is also regarded as “one of the most knowledgeable and highly regarded counsel in antitrust matters”.

Jones Day is generally seen to be among the upper echelons of international firms in French and European competition law, especially for its two highly esteemed partners. Eric Barbier de la Serre is a dedicated competition lawyer, who is described as “smart, polite, efficient and very professional” by respondents. The “excellent” Eric Morgan de Rivery is regularly praised for his “first-class experience and knowledge”; with one peer adding that “his legal mind is remarkable”.

White & Case is clearly a strong choice for those seeking high quality multi-jurisdictional competition law advice and representation. Head of the practice Jean-Paul Tran Thiet is praised for his client-centric approach: “It is clearly important to him that his clients’ interests are a priority and that they are kept well-informed throughout proceedings”. Juliette Goyer is continuing to increase her presence in our research with peers recommending her as “a knowledgeable and conscientious” practitioner with a visible presence in merger control and antitrust investigations. 

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is a serious player in high-profile domestic and EU related competition matters with the “excellent” Jérôme Philippe heading “a great team within a powerful network”.

BDGS Associés enters our competition research this year with the lateral hire of Maria  Trabucchi, an experienced practitioner in high-profile antitrust litigation and merger control matters. Sources advise that she is “intelligent and very dedicated to her clients”, as well as being “a genuine pleasure to work with”.

At the competition boutique Dethomas Peltier Juvigny & Co, Olivier de Juvigny is a highly prized counsel in both antitrust litigation and merger control matters. One source commented that “he embodies everything I look for in a lawyer – knowledgeable, practical, clear and enthusiastic”.

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton ranks highly in our research with praise centred on the leading “top-tier” practice of François Brunet. He is widely known both domestically and internationally for his representation in high profile investigations and transactions on the Continent.

Fréget – Tasso de Panafieu is a respected independent firm with a particular focus on competition law. Olivier  Fréget is highlighted for his specialised knowledge of the regulated sectors. He is also known for his “impressive drive”; one source adds that he is “an innovative practitioner who seems to have answers to every issue”.

Head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s European competition practice Mélanie  Thill-Tayara is regularly recommended as “one of the leading authorities” in French and EU competition law. One source echoed wider sentiment by describing her as “very experienced, highly professional and a sheer pleasure to work with”.

Allen & Overy is an important player in Paris with its partner Florence Ninane, “a certain inclusion” due to an excellent portfolio of clients and “a brilliant head for the law and economics”.

JeantetAssociés AARPI features strongly with Loraine Donnedieu de Vabres-Tranié selected by a number of respondents for her “highly respected competition practice”. She is particularly well endorsed for her experience in cartel investigations.

At Dunaud Clarenc Combles & Associés, Christophe Clarenc is recognised for his expertise in the regulated sectors, with an emphasis on the telecommunications sector. Sources add that he is “a very good advocate” with “a flair for dealing with highly technical matters.”

DS Avocats’ Michel Debroux is a seasoned expert in all national and EU competition law matters. Clients appreciate his “solid, common-sense approach”, and “his focus on procedural aspects that proved crucial to the case”.

Sergio Sorinas heads Herbert Smith Freehills’ competition team, advising in all areas of French and EU competition law. Peers remark that “he has been skilfully carving out a piece of the market for a number of years now and he should certainly be considered a serious player”.

At Davis Polk & Wardwell, Jean Mathieu Cot is active in a number of high-profile merger control matters for the firm’s prominent clients, as well as in French and EU antitrust litigation. Respondents highlight his “strong knowledge of legal and economic considerations”.

Weil Gotshal & Manges’ Romain Ferla is considered “an increasingly prominent player” in French and European competition matters. Peers have been impressed by his “dedication, professionalism and strong technical competence”.

At Paul Hastings, Pierre Kirch, who shares his time between the firm’s Paris and Brussels office, is considered “a leader” in merger control matters, regularly acting in high-value multi-jurisdictional transactions. He is also considered an “accomplished litigator” in high-end antitrust investigations.   

Léna Sersiron of Baker & McKenzie receives a number of recommendations this year for her strong visibility in the market. She is a young partner with “a promising future”, with sources noting that she is “knowledgeable, diligent and an exceedingly talented litigator”.

Nathalie Jalabert-Doury, head of Mayer Brown’s competition practice in Paris, handles prominent merger filings and antitrust investigations before the EU and French Competition Authorities. One client was impressed by her “thorough command of highly complicated and technical issues”. 

Frédéric Fuchs is a founding partner of a very visible boutique – Fuchs Cohana Reboul & Associés. He is highly regarded in the market for his “dynamic, specialised and responsive counsel on high-end antitrust investigations”.

At the competition focused Paris firm Magenta, Sylvain Justier is active before the EU and competition commission. Peers commend his responsiveness and “technically precise judgement”.

Head of McDermott Will & Emery’s Paris office is the “esteemed” Jacques Buhart, a renowned figure in merger control matters and a respected counsel in cartel and abuse of dominance positions.

Aurélien  Condomines is the founding partner of Aramis Société d'Avocats and leads its small but specialised antitrust team. He has been active on a number of noteworthy cartel investigations and merger filings, in which peers recommend his “strong technical knowledge” and “close attention to detail”.

Experts

This year, we select 19 leading competition economists.

Compass Lexecon is rated both domestically and internationally as one of the foremost centres of economic and competition policy expertise across Europe. The team has provided advice and testimonies on some of the most noteworthy antitrust investigations before the European Commission and the French Competition Authority. David Sevy is “a celebrated name”, known by many leading competition lawyers worldwide as “an undisputed authority”. Marc Ivaldi is a research fellow at Institut D'Economie Industrielle and a senior consultant at the firm. He is “a thought leader” in applied industrial organisation and an expert in empirical methods for competition policy, advising competition authorities and firms in cases of merger, collective dominance and arbitrage. Frédéric Palomino, Valérie Meunier and Fabien Roques are also key senior figures in the Paris office, who clients praise him for their “smart, results-orientated and practical approach”.

Microeconomix has grown to become one of the premier economic consulting firms in France. Respondents find the firm’s advice to be “sophisticated, rigorous and responsive”. Managing partner Gildas de Muizon is a widely recognised “leading figure” for economic expertise in relation to French and EU merger and antitrust litigation. Clients regarded his written and oral testimonies to be of “very high quality”. Founding partner François Lévêque is a distinguished economist, well known and well respected by many of France’s leading competition lawyers. Olivier Sautel is highly recommended, particularly for his expertise in the evaluation of damages from anti-competitive practices.

MAPP, a leading Paris and Brussels-based economic consultancy, performs very strongly in our research with a trio of highly regarded experts. David Spector is referred to as “the best economist in Paris right now”, by one leading lawyer and he is a widely recognised in subjects ranging from collusion to the competitive impact of mergers, exclusionary strategies and state aids. Observers note that he is “very visible” in merger and antitrust investigations in France and before the EU Commission. The “excellent” Anne Perrot, vice president of the French Competition Authority before joining the firm in 2012, is “an undisputed authority” on competition policy and she is also “well-versed in the most recent economic theory”. Antoine Chapsal is also highly recommended as a key figure in French and EU competition policy and economic theory, with a noted specialisation in industrial organisation.

At the Institut D'Economie Industrielle, three more very high-profile economists are recommended. Jean Tirole is one of the most celebrated economists in France, who respondents have referred to as “a luminary” and “an unparalleled font of knowledge”. Paul Seabright and Patrick Rey are also seen as being “among the most eminent scholars in competition policy and industrial organisation”.

Charles River Associates, a renowned global consulting firm, is recognised for the “outstanding practice” of Laurent  Flochel. He is “a highly respected” academic in all aspects of competition policy, with particular experience of the pharmaceutical sector.

Tera Consultants is an esteemed internationally orientated economic consultancy based in Paris, driven by “a highly specialised, professional and dynamic team”. Its founder Laurent Benzoni has over two decades’ worth of experience consulting for companies and public entities in competition policy and litigation support.

Maurice Nussenbaum of Sorgem Evaluation is recommended by a number of practitioners for his expertise in antitrust litigation. He is described as “an excellent consultant, very responsive and technically proficient”.

The small but highly focused team at Rise Conseil is highly regarded for their expertise and the “effectual delivery of their work” in complex antitrust litigation. Thomas Tassin is recommended by a number of his peers and clients.

Professor of economics at ESSEC Business School and chairman of the OECD’s Competition Law and Policy Committee Frédéric Jenny is regarded as “a senior statesman” by many of the world’s leading competition practitioners.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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