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Kim Dietzel
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Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Competition: Lawyers

Kim Dietzel is a partner at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, specialising in all aspects of EU and UK competition law, including merger control, antitrust investigations and criminal cartel cases. She has a particular focus on competition litigation, both in respect of global case coordination and cases before the English courts, and also represents clients before the EU courts in Luxembourg. Kim is a qualified solicitor-advocate and appears as an advocate in the Competition Appeal Tribunal.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO ENTER THE LEGAL PROFESSION?

I studied law because I had a desire to understand how things work in society. I wanted to be part of the interactions between the state and the individual and businesses. 

WHAT DREW YOU TO COMPETITION LAW IN PARTICULAR?

I felt strongly that the free market has a lot to offer, such as reward for innovation, but there also needed to be some regulatory limits so that no single entity could dominate a market and hinder other players. The combination of law and economics still fascinates me today, as does the business reality of this area. Competition lawyers are involved in shaping strategic business decisions, which is incredibly exciting. There is also quite a bit of black letter law involved especially in competition litigation, and the intellectual challenge of that continues to be really motivating for me.

WHAT QUALITIES MAKE A SUCCESSFUL COMPETITION LAWYER?

You need to understand the way markets work, you need to enjoy thinking creatively and you need  to be willing to go into battle to defend your client’s position.

HAS EU POLICY HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON MITIGATING THE EFFECTS OF AND DETERRING CARTELS WITHIN EUROPE?

In my view, yes. Anticompetitive conduct is definitely deterred, and it is often a case of a lack of clarity as to what falls on either side of the line, rather than a deliberate disregard for competition law, that raises issues. With competition follow-on litigation, things may even have gone too far now. Companies that have already paid substantial administrative fines are faced with massive damages actions which often bear little resemblance to the underlying facts.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG LAWYERS LOOKING TO WORK IN COMPETITION LAW IN THE FUTURE?

You are making a good decision!

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE DISPUTE YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

The Virgin Atlantic/British Airways passenger fuel surcharge case. It had everything from a civil and criminal cartel case, to a class action damages claim and novel group damages settlement. There were of course many ups and downs, but the Herbert Smith Freehills and Virgin team worked brilliantly hand in glove over many years, ultimately achieving the right outcomes.

WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF COMPETITION POLICY FOR ENSURING A HEALTHY BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT GOING FORWARD?

Clarity and transparency are key, coupled with an effective review mechanism. We need courts that ensure full accountability.

CAN A COMPLEX REGULATORY COMPETITION INFRASTRUCTURE AND AN EFFECTIVE AND ROBUST MARKET CO-EXIST?

Absolutely! We need competition regulation to ensure effective and robust markets persist. Of course we do not want unnecessary complexity, but the regulatory system needs to be sophisticated enough to work within today’s markets which are often complex.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

Kim Dietzel is a partner advising on all aspects of EU and UK competition law, including merger control, antitrust investigations, criminal cartel cases and competition litigation. Kim has expertise across a wide range of industries such as aviation (including on regulatory issues), transport, financial services, consumer goods and industrial sectors. She frequently represents clients before the European Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority, and the UK sectoral regulators.

Kim has a particular focus on competition litigation, both in respect of global case coordination and also specifically before the English courts. She also represents clients before the EU courts in Luxembourg. Kim is a qualified solicitor-advocate and appears as an advocate in the Competition Appeal Tribunal. She has been acknowledged as a leading competition litigator by Global Competition Review, Chambers and Partners and The Legal 500.  She was also recently recognised by The Lawyer magazine as a “Hot 100” lawyer in the UK in respect of cartel, investigations and competition litigation work.

Kim regularly speaks at international conferences and has published extensively on competition issues, with a focus on follow-on litigation and on leniency, where she is co-author of the UK leniency chapter of the European Lawyer Reference series guide. She is a committee member of the UK Competition Law Association.

Kim read law at Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University, and obtained an LLM at the Goethe University, Frankfurt. She is based in Herbert Smith Freehills' London office, having also worked in the firm's Brussels office. Kim has also been seconded to the competition law team of The Coca-Cola Company. Kim is a native German speaker and has good working knowledge of French.

WWL says: Kim Dietzel is “a very strong litigator” known for her “excellent work handling some of the trickiest damages cases out there.”

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

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