Craig Pouncey
Office:
Central Plaza
Rue de Loxum 25
B-1000
City:
Brussels
Country:
Belgium
Tel:
+32 2 518 1829
Fax:
+32 2 511 7772

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Competition: Lawyers

Craig is managing partner of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’ Brussels office. He has built a broad-based EU and UK competition practice, with extensive experience in the field of merger control and cartel investigations, as well as antitrust litigation and counselling for a large number of high-profile international clients.

WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR PLAN TO PURSUE A CAREER IN LAW? 

No. As often in life, serendipity played a role. I originally planned to become a literary academic, but somewhere along the way a dear friend in the legal profession convinced me that I “would make a good lawyer”. Not too long thereafter I found myself interviewing at Herbert Smith in London with my mentor, the legendary Dorothy Livingston, and the rest is history.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SPECIALISE IN COMPETITION LAW?

Modern languages at university pointed me, ultimately, in the direction of EU law (which I studied initially at Nice University), which led me to competition law in due course.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU IN YOUR WORK?

Pursuing something for its intrinsic value. I find it highly satisfying to research and prepare a well-argued case.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES FACING COMPETITION LAWYERS AT THE MOMENT?

The ability to apply a legal framework that was crafted in a “bricks-and-mortar” era in a rapidly developing technological world. You need to keep thinking outside the box.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNGER LAWYERS?

I call it the “Grandma Rule” (not because I’m sexist and it couldn’t apply equally to “grandads”, but because my grandma used to test me on my school homework) – present complex ideas in a way that my grandma would have understood. I always advise young lawyers that if you can’t present and communicate something in a manner that is simple and straightforward, you almost certainly haven’t understood it yourself, and your clients definitely won’t.

AS MANAGING PARTNER OF THE BRUSSELS OFFICE, HOW DO YOU SEE THE FIRM’S PRACTICE DEVELOPING OVER THE COMING YEAR?

The Brussels office has always been an important part of Herbert Smith Freehills’ competition practice, but it is clear post-Brexit that we need to give significant thought to the role and focus of the office going forward. If anything, our office here will become more important. 

YOU HAVE BEEN WITH HERBERT SMITH FREEHILLS FOR OVER 30 YEARS, WHAT HAS ENCOURAGED YOU TO STAY FOR SO LONG?

Working relationships that have developed into lasting friendships – it’s a real joy to work for clients and with colleagues who have become close friends. I have always considered myself lucky to be part of a great team of talented men and women who support and encourage one another.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

Craig Pouncey has been managing partner of Herbert Smith Freehills' Brussels office since 2005. His broad-based EU and UK competition practice focuses on merger control, cartel investigations, antitrust litigation and counselling for a large number of high-profile international clients. His experience covers a broad range of sectors, including telecoms and media (he is acknowledged as the leading expert on UK newspaper mergers), manufacturing industries, music, e-commerce and financial services. Craig regularly appears before the European Commission, European Courts and the UK Competition Appeal tribunal. 

Craig has played the leading role in co-ordinating and developing the Brussels office's cartels practice and has been involved in a number of the automotive parts cases (including wire-harnesses and automotive bearings), as well as the cables case and the European Commission's investigations into the LIBOR/EURIBOR and Foreign Exchange markets.

Craig has been especially active in developing the link between the Brussels office and the Asia-Pacific region, in particular Tokyo. As a result of his efforts, the office now counts among its clients an impressive roster of Japanese manufacturing, financial services and trading houses. 

Craig studied at King’s College London and the universities of Paris and Nice, before qualifying as a barrister in 1985. He joined Herbert Smith in 1987 and has been based in Brussels since 1994, when he became a partner.

WWL says: The outstanding Craig Pouncey is a prominent name in the market, known for his top-quality advice in multi-jurisdictional merger issues and cartel investigations.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Competition which can be purchased from our Shop.

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