John Boyce
Office:
40 Square de Meeûs
1000
City:
Brussels
Country:
Belgium
Tel:
+32 2 737 9411
Fax:
+32 2 737 9401

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Competition

John has spent most of his career in Brussels – for two years as an associate (when the firm established its Brussels office in 1989) and since 1996 when he returned as a partner. Much of that time has involved notifications of deals to the European Commission under the Merger Regulation. His practice also covers cartels and other antitrust investigations, as well as proceedings before the European Courts (and the UK domestic courts).

Why did you decide to specialise in competition law?

I studied EEC law at university and was attracted by the international nature of Slaughter and May’s practice. I found advising on competition law issues required a good understanding of clients’ business activities and objectives. Working with clients to navigate antitrust obstacles continues to give me job satisfaction.

What advice would you give to younger lawyers starting their career in this practice area?

Be enthusiastic and open-minded. Meet and work with individuals – clients across different sectors, regulators, economists, other advisers – from different cultural backgrounds and legal traditions. Variety is the spice of life. It helps you “think outside the box” and find solutions, rather than just identifying problems.

What are the greatest challenges facing competition lawyers at present?

Staying on top of your workload and focused on each client’s objectives, despite other demands and distractions (including incessant email traffic).

What separates your firm from the competition?

Slaughter and May is about talented individuals working in teams, focused on achieving the best result for the client. We don’t have the tensions of an “eat what you kill” culture or “billable hours” targets. We have a different approach to international coverage, managing challenging multijurisdictional projects by working flexibly with antitrust specialists through our network of “best friends”.

How important is maintaining a good working relationship with the competition authorities in your practice?

Maintaining good relations is a key part of working in the “Brussels bubble”. It makes the job enjoyable and helps investigations run smoothly. It takes time to develop a good reputation in Brussels, but much longer to rebuild one if it is seriously damaged.

You have over 30 years of service with Slaughter and May; what is it about the firm that has encouraged you to stay for so long?

I’m part of a great team of talented women and men with different backgrounds, strengths and skills. It’s very satisfying to help younger colleagues develop their legal and business skills to achieve our clients’ objectives (and now doing so using new technologies and working practices).

What do you anticipate the future holds for the competition legal market in Europe?

We’ll continue to see international cooperation, with regulators learning from others’ investigative toolboxes and deploying the competition rules more strategically to achieve broader political objectives. Brexit may complicate enforcement within Europe, and will increase the number of regulatory reviews for business.

What is the secret of your success?

The KISS principle. Keeping it simple and straightforward generally helps cases run smoothly and achieves better results for the client. But modern investigative techniques (including increased use of econometrics) mean that gliding calmly across the water requires proper preparation and frantic relentless paddling beneath the surface.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal Competition: State Aid

John is resident in Brussels and has dual Belgian and UK nationality. He is qualified both as a solicitor (England and Wales) and as a member of the Brussels Bar (A List).

John’s practice involves EU merger notifications and cartel investigations by the European Commission and national competition authorities (including immunity/leniency applications). His contentious work includes proceedings before the General Court and Court of Justice, including successful appeals in cartel, merger, state aid and parallel trade matters.

John’s highlights include advising: British Airways on the European Commission’s investigation and approval (under Article 101 TFEU) of BA’s transatlantic alliance with American Airlines and Iberia, as well as the EUMR clearance of the BA/Iberia merger (establishing IAG) and IAG's subsequent acquisitions of bmi and Aer Lingus; and Bertelsmann on the Sony/BMG merger and subsequent appeals to the European courts, as well as on the disposal of its music publishing interests (to Vivendi/Universal) and its Penguin Random House book publishing joint venture. He has also advised on various other Phase II cases (e.g. Ball/Rexam, Cargill/Degussa, IBM/Telelogic and SC Johnson/Sara Lee), as well as Phase I commitments cases (e.g. Akzo Nobel/ICI, Becton Dickinson/Bard, FMC/DuPont Divestment Assets, Intel/McAfee, Reckitt Benckiser/SSL and Thermo Fisher/Life Technologies), and cases involving the Article 4 pre-notification referral procedures.

John is ranked as a leading individual in Chambers, The Legal 500, IFLR 1000 and Who’s Who Legal and was named Competition Lawyer of the Year (2017) by Who’s Who Legal. John is a contributing author to the “Merger Control” chapter of Bellamy & Child.

WWL says: John Boyce has more than 20 years’ experience in the Brussels market, and is a go-to name for some of the most complex state aid matters around.

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

Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

John is resident in Brussels and has dual Belgian and UK nationality. He is qualified both as a solicitor (England and Wales) and as a member of the Brussels Bar (A List).

John’s practice involves EU merger notifications and cartel investigations by the European Commission and national competition authorities (including immunity/leniency applications). His contentious work includes proceedings before the General Court and Court of Justice, including successful appeals in cartel, merger, state aid and parallel trade matters.

John’s highlights include advising: British Airways on the European Commission’s investigation and approval (under Article 101 TFEU) of BA’s transatlantic alliance with American Airlines and Iberia, as well as the EUMR clearance of the BA/Iberia merger (establishing IAG) and IAG's subsequent acquisitions of bmi and Aer Lingus; and Bertelsmann on the Sony/BMG merger and subsequent appeals to the European courts, as well as on the disposal of its music publishing interests (to Vivendi/Universal) and its Penguin Random House book publishing joint venture. He has also advised on various other Phase II cases (e.g. Ball/Rexam, Cargill/Degussa, IBM/Telelogic and SC Johnson/Sara Lee), as well as Phase I commitments cases (e.g. Akzo Nobel/ICI, Becton Dickinson/Bard, FMC/DuPont Divestment Assets, Intel/McAfee, Reckitt Benckiser/SSL and Thermo Fisher/Life Technologies), and cases involving the Article 4 pre-notification referral procedures.

John is ranked as a leading individual in Chambers, The Legal 500, IFLR 1000 and Who’s Who Legal and was named Competition Lawyer of the Year (2017) by Who’s Who Legal. John is a contributing author to the “Merger Control” chapter of Bellamy & Child.

WWL says: The “brilliant” John Boyce is a “very clever” lawyer who emerges as one of the leading names in our research this year.

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

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