Philippe Chappatte
One Bunhill Row
+44 20 7090 4424
+44 20 7090 5000

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Competition

Philippe is head of the Slaughter and May competition group. He joined the firm in 1980, became a partner in 1989 and is now responsible for the running and development of the firm’s global competition practice. He is resident in the London office, but also spends a proportion of his time in Brussels. He has extensive experience of both EU and UK competition law with expertise in merger, cartel, behavioural and competition litigation cases.

What motivated you to become a competition lawyer?

I was awarded a scholarship to read European law in Brussels while studying law at Oxford. I enjoyed the mix of economics, policy and law involved in competition. I continue to enjoy that today combined with the opportunity to work on challenging cases worldwide.

What qualities make a successful competition lawyer?

A keen interest in law, economics and understanding your clients’ businesses.

What is the most memorable matter that you have worked on?

I acted for Bertelsmann on the merger of its recorded music business, BMG, with Sony Music. The transaction was subject to opposition from industry stakeholders and the European Commission was minded to prohibit the deal. However, we presented a convincing economic case and the Commission cleared the deal unconditionally after an intensive investigation. We then had to go through the process again, as the decision was annulled on appeal, where we achieved another unconditional clearance and won an appeal to the ECJ on the legal issues.

How does Slaughter and May compete with the likes of the international firms? What advantages does the “best-friends” model bring in this field?

The best-friends model means that we can work with the best lawyers in any given jurisdiction. We do not have to cross-sell lawyers just because they are part of a branch network. By working together alongside other market-leading firms, we can deliver unparalleled quality cost-effectively.

As global head of the firm’s competition practice, how are you looking to take the practice forward in the coming years?

Our strategy is based on our three international hubs of London, Brussels and Hong Kong/Beijing. We aim to continue growing the hubs and be recognised as a market-leading practice in each jurisdiction.

What challenges do you anticipate Brexit presenting to your clients?

If there is a “soft Brexit”, the competition law challenges will be similar to today. However, if there is a “hard Brexit”, businesses will face the burden of parallel reviews in the EU and the UK with the risk of divergent outcomes.

Over the past few years, high levels of merger activity globally have formed a healthy stream of work for competition lawyers. Do you expect this to continue?

It was an exceptional year for global M&A activity in 2015. While activity levels are currently lower, we remain busy on merger control matters as clients continue to seek to grow their businesses through acquisitions.

Competition litigation is reported to be on the rise, is this affecting the nature of services that you provide to clients?

Damages claims are now expected after most EU and UK infringement decisions. The risk of litigation therefore has to be taken into account when advising on competition investigations. We are fortunate to be acting on some of the leading cases, such as the defence of British Airways on the multijurisdictional air cargo case.

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