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Nigel Seay
Office:
10 Snow Hill
EC1A 2AL
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7295 3416
Fax:
+44 20 7295 3500

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Competition: Lawyers

Nigel is the head of Travers Smith LLP’s competition practice. He has been a partner at Travers Smith since 2007 and has spent the vast majority of his career in private practice in London. Nigel has a broad competition practice spanning merger control and behavioural matters at both EU and UK levels across a variety of industries from financial services to consumer goods. He also has significant experience in competition litigation before the English courts.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN LAW? 

I planned to go into industry. However, I then did a summer holiday scheme at a leading New Zealand law firm and thought this all looked quite a bit more interesting than starting on the bottom rung of a corporate.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO COMPETITION WORK IN PARTICULAR?

It’s the same reason many of my colleagues give – you get a great combination of taking a close-up look at different businesses, the challenge of advocacy and interesting law.

HOW HAS THE RAPID GROWTH IN FOLLOW-ON DAMAGES CLAIMS FOR BREACH OF COMPETITION LAW AFFECTED YOUR PRACTICE?

The impact has been substantial. Damages claims (principally defendant-side) have become a significant percentage of the department’s workload and there is now a much greater level of cross-departmental collaboration in our work, with our dispute resolution colleagues heavily involved in these cases. The risk of damages actions is also now far more at the forefront of clients’ decision-making, eg, on whether to seek leniency.

TO WHAT EXTENT DOES THE EU-WIDE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE DAMAGES DIRECTIVE LESSEN THE APPEAL OF LONDON AS A PLACE TO BRING ANTITRUST DAMAGES CLAIMS?

We are going to have to wait and see quite how much the other leading EU jurisdictions actually do develop claimant-friendly disclosure regimes – it is one thing to pass a law, but much will depend on the approach judges take in practice. There are also other advantages for claimants in England, including costs rules.

WHAT IMPACT HAS THE PROVISION OF ENFORCEMENT POWERS TO THE FCA HAD ON THE UK MARKET?

Having initially focused on market studies, the FCA now has a number of live competition enforcement cases. This activity is only likely to grow and is focusing the minds of companies in the sector.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF BREXIT ON A LONDON-BASED COMPETITION PRACTICE?

I am cautiously optimistic. At least for UK clients, we are likely to remain the natural choice to act on mergers and competition investigations before the European Commission and at the same time the level of UK enforcement should grow.

HOW DOES TRAVERS SMITH’S COMPETITION DEPARTMENT STAND OUT AGAINST OTHER TEAMS IN THE UK?

We think our selling point is the combination of high-calibre lawyers top to bottom, close partner involvement in our matters and strong experience across each of merger control, competition investigations and litigation. Thus far, enough clients seem to agree!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG LAWYERS LOOKING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN COMPETITION LAW?

You need to be genuinely interested in it. Initially there is a mountain of law (and some economics) to learn and this is an area where the law is constantly developing. It’s easier if you have a genuine enthusiasm for the subject matter. 

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Competition: Lawyers

Nigel Seay is the head of Travers Smith LLP's competition practice and has been a partner at Travers Smith since 2007. Nigel advises on EU, UK and multi-jurisdictional merger control matters, as well as the full range of behavioural EU and UK competition law matters. Nigel also has significant experience in competition litigation before the English courts.  In addition, Nigel advises on sector-specific regulation.

Nigel regularly represents clients before the European Commission, the UK Competition and Markets Authority and the various UK sectoral regulators.  Nigel acts for clients across a wide variety of industry sectors and has been particularly active in the financial services, technology, media, retail and energy and infrastructure sectors.

Nigel is a former chair of the competition section of the Law Society of England and Wales.

Nigel has been recognised for his work in national legal publications. According to Chambers UK, Nigel is "very creative and solution-oriented". According to The Legal 500: UK, he "has a real depth of experience in competition law".

WWL says: Nigel Seay is a “strategic thinker and excellent negotiator” who is an exceptional performer in litigation proceedings.

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

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