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Kyriakos Fountoukakos
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Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Competition: Lawyers

Kyriakos Fountoukakos is a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, specialising in all aspects of EU and UK competition law, including merger control, cartels and antitrust investigations, and competition litigation before the EU courts. Kyriakos has particular expertise through his background as an EU official, having held positions as a European Commission official at DG Competition’s merger task force and then as a legal assistant in the cabinet of the President of the General Court of the EU.

WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION?

The US legal TV series I used to watch as a teenager! Seriously, while this certainly did play a role, I knew I wanted to go into a profession that was business oriented, with a lot of social interaction and where language is important – in particular writing, which I always enjoyed.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL COMPETITION LAWYER?

Analytical thinking and understanding the client’s business, knowledge of the law (obviously!) and keeping up to date with legal developments, management skills (as many cases are lengthy, complex and require good coordination), getting on top of the facts of a case, and having the ability to present clearly and logically to clients, regulators and courts.

WHAT ASPECT OF YOUR WORK IN PRACTICE DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST?

Can I pick three? First, providing strategic advice to clients on key issues. I enjoy the feeling of having added value to a client’s business. Second, getting to grips with a complex legal point. And third, international travel and interacting with contacts around the world.

WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, HAVE BEEN THE BENEFITS OF YOUR TIME SPENT AT THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION AND GENERAL COURT?

I really enjoyed my time at both institutions and found the work very interesting. I loved drafting and negotiating the EU Merger Regulation in the Council. It was a true “Brussels” type of job. And at the court, I liked being part of a really small team in the president’s cabinet. I worked with fantastically talented people who are now friends. The key benefit for my current work is the familiarity with the institutions and how they work.

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING COMPETITION LAWYERS AT THE MOMENT?

Cases are becoming ever more complex. It’s difficult to keep on top of all areas of competition law and to take the time to think through issues in more detail. Everything is so fast-paced these days.  

THE NUMBER OF JURISDICTIONS WITH MANDATORY MERGER CONTROL SYSTEMS APPEARS TO BE RISING WORLDWIDE. WHAT IMPACT IS THIS HAVING ON CLIENTS DOING BUSINESS DEALS AND ON THE ADVICE YOU GIVE THEM? 

This is a real issue for clients. Many transactions I work on require multiple filings around the world. These deals need very good preparation to ensure a smooth filing process and timely clearances. If something goes wrong in one jurisdiction it can impact the whole deal globally. 

WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR THE COMPETITION LEGAL MARKET?

More globalisation I think. Clients are international, regulators cooperate very closely, mergers and investigations are almost never local anymore. It is important to have an international outlook while ensuring good coverage locally on the ground.  

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

Kyriakos Fountoukakos is a partner based in Herbert Smith Freehills' Brussels office specialising in all aspects of EU and UK competition law, including merger control, cartels, antitrust investigations and advice, distribution agreements, dominance, and competition litigation before the EU courts. He has advised clients across a broad range of industries including TMT, energy and mining, financial services, pharmaceuticals, transport and consumer goods. Kyriakos works closely with the Herbert Smith Freehills network to provide advice on multi-jurisdictional transactions and investigations.

Kyriakos has particular expertise through his background as an EU official, having held positions as a European Commission official at DG Competition’s merger task force and then as a legal assistant in the cabinet of the President of the General Court of the EU. While at the Commission, he dealt with merger transactions and was part of the team that drafted the current Merger Regulation and accompanying notices.

Kyriakos is acknowledged as a leading competition law expert in major legal directories, and was selected as one of the top 40 competition lawyers under the age of 40 in a Global Competition Review survey.

Kyriakos is an officer of the IBA’s antitrust committee. He actively speaks and writes about competition law, is co-editor of the mergers chapter of Jones and Van der Woude’s EU Competition Law Handbook, and has given a number of seminars on merger control at UCL including as part of the LLM course.

Kyriakos has studied at the University of Athens (LLB), King's College London (LLM), the University of Cambridge (MPhil in European studies) and Columbia Law School, New York (LLM). He is qualified as a Greek lawyer and as a solicitor in England and Wales. Kyriakos is fluent in English, Greek and French.

WWL says: Kyriakos Fountoukakos has extensive experience in EU and UK competition law where he is "a rainmaker who creates excellent relationships at all levels".

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

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