David Mamane, LLM (Bruges), is the head of Schellenberg Wittmer’s competition group. His main practice areas are competition/antitrust law, public law and distribution agreements. He regularly advises clients in proceedings before the Swiss Competition Commission. His experience covers all aspects of Swiss and European competition law, including national and multi-jurisdictional merger control procedures, cartel investigations, dawn raids, internal investigations, compliance and leniency procedures. He is a lecturer in competition law at the University of Lucerne, and the co-founder of the European Competition Lawyers Association (www.competitionlawyers.org).
What inspired you to pursue a career in competition law?
During my law studies, Switzerland introduced its first modern Cartel Act, inspired by the European competition law rules of the EU. These were exciting times that allowed us to discover this new field of law. During my LLM studies with a focus on EU law, I was able to connect the European practice with the correlating Swiss developments. In my daily work I was inspired to focus on competition law due to the fact that it is closely intertwined with economics and every new case provides fresh insights into interesting markets and their specific economic mechanics.
How has the role of the competition lawyer changed since you entered the field?
I can see three main developments over the past years. First, competition lawyers must have an even better understanding of economics in order to properly handle their cases and to interact with economists. Second, the procedures by the competition authorities can be very costly in addition to incurring potentially significant fines. Therefore, our advice is already important in compliance matters to prevent infringements of competition law. Third, competition law practice has become more international with regard to merger control, cartel investigations and the international review of distribution systems. It is important to be able to confidently interact with other lawyers on an international level.
In 2017, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court heightened competition law standards. How have distribution agreements been impacted since?
The 2017 judgments of the Federal Supreme Court have led to a fundamental change of the competition law practice. Before then, the Swiss competition authorities always had to show negative effects of the investigated behaviour to establish a competition law infringement. The consequence of this recent change of the practice is a very broad and almost unlimited scope of application, which in some cases goes even beyond the EU practice. This results in a significant level of legal uncertainty with a risk of ultimately chilling competition.
In your opinion, how will Swiss merger control develop in the next few years?
The federal government is currently evaluating the possibility of modernising Swiss merger control. The focus is the introduction of an EU-style material test based on the concept of “significant impediment of effective competition”. This would allow the Swiss authorities to intervene in more cases and would lead to a significant increase in workload for the notifying parties due to tightened information requirements. This would also likely increase the significance of the cooperation agreement between Switzerland and the EU in competition matters. There is currently no discussion regarding the notification thresholds.
What is the most memorable case you have been a part of?
My first Swiss merger control procedure concerned the creation of a mobile phone joint venture in the early 2000s. In retrospect, this case shows how ephemeral a market position can be – even for dominant companies in the technology industry – and how competition can transform entire industries.
How has your role as a lecturer enhanced your work in private practice?
As a lecturer I have the privilege of regularly explaining the basics, as well as the most recent cases to my students. This ensures that I always closely follow Swiss as well as EU developments. In addition, my experience as a lecturer has been invaluable because it has taught me how to best explain complicated competition law concepts to make them understandable without losing their essence.
What has been your greatest achievement to date?
Over the years, we have put together an excellent team of competition lawyers in our firm, consisting of experienced practitioners, former officials of the Swiss competition authority, as well as a high-profile competition law academic and an ordinary professor of competition law. It is a pleasure working with them and developing our practice together.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in competition law?
First, enjoy what you are doing. You can only excel in a field for which you have a true interest and passion. Second, follow competition law developments across other countries. Concepts and problems outside your jurisdiction are often similar and can inspire your practice. Third, connect with other lawyers on an international level. Having an international network is crucial to assist your clients in the best possible way.
David Mamane, LLM (Bruges), is the head of Schellenberg Wittmer’s competition group. His main areas of practice are competition/antitrust law, public law and distribution agreements. He regularly advises clients in proceedings before the Swiss ComCo and is experienced in all aspects of Swiss and European competition law, including national and multi-jurisdictional merger control procedures, cartel investigations, dawn raids, internal investigations, compliance and leniency procedures. He is a lecturer in competition law at the University of Lucerne.
Describe your career to date.
My interest in competition law began during my university studies, which coincided with the enactment of the current Swiss competition law act. In my first position as a lawyer, I worked on IP/IT and competition law matters. I focused my LLM at the College of Europe (Bruges) on competition law and then worked in that field for an international law firm in Brussels. After my return to Switzerland I continued to fully dedicate my career to competition law: I became a competition law lecturer in 2009, a partner in my firm in 2011 and the head of its competition team in 2018.
What is the most important quality for a competition lawyer to have?
Every competition lawyer needs to have a lot of curiosity to fully immerse themselves into the product and business world of their client. Only by fully understanding the business is it possible to assess the relevant competition law questions and to advise clients on potential competition law issues. It is also important to stay on top of the international legal developments in the field of competition law. Many new concepts develop on an international level, and are transposed by national competition authorities into their own practice.
Vertical consolidation is becoming increasingly prevalent in discussions around competition. To what extent are fears surrounding this justified?
In my view there should not be any fears around vertical integration and consolidation. Ultimately, from a competition law point of view, a vertically integrated business can have more possibilities and better control when distributing its products. This can counterbalance certain competition law restrictions on the distribution of goods and services.
How has the field of competition law changed since you started practising?
I can see three main developments over the past years. First, economic considerations have at the same time become more important and are also controversial, in particular with regard to restrictions by object. The right balance seems to be hard to find. Second, decisions and judgments have become much longer and more complex, reflecting a heightened level of legal and economic scrutiny. Third, the competition law practice has become more international in regards to merger control, cartel investigations and the international review of distribution systems.
How does your firm stand out from competitors in the market?
Our team is based in Zurich and Geneva and we can assist clients in German, French and English from both offices. Our team members all have significant competition law experience and two of them are former case handlers of the Swiss Competition Authority and can contribute their practical experience from having experienced both sides. Also, we can draw on a large pool of highly experienced litigators from our firm’s large litigation team.
What do you enjoy most about working in the field of competition law?
I enjoy the variety of work! We work across all types of fields of work from transactional advice and merger control procedures, to representations in investigations and internal investigations, as well as compliance work, in many different industries. Together with my teaching position, this is very rewarding.
Where does the future of competition law lie?
On the one hand, some of the work will become more global, in particular in regards to merger control work and international cartel investigations, which are also driven by increased cooperation among national competition authorities. On the other hand, we will also have more local work, as the Swiss competition authority continues to develop its own practice, which is in some instances different to the practice in the EU.
David Mamane possesses “excellent expertise in all competition matters”. He is “one of the most prominent lawyers in his jurisdiction”, and “second to none in Switzerland”.
David Mamane is a partner and head of Schellenberg Wittmer's competition group in Zurich. His main areas of practice are competition and antitrust law, as well as telecommunications and energy, public procurement, licence and distribution agreements.
David is co-founder of a legal consulting firm in the IT sector and leads the IT and knowledge management team at Schellenberg Wittmer. He is also a co-founder of the European Competition Lawyers Association (ECLA; www.competitionlawyers.org).
His recent expertise includes advising Husqvarna in investigations by the Swiss Competition Commission; representing a leading Swiss bank in investigations by the Swiss Competition Commission; and advising Olympus with regard to competition law.
David is recognised as a "most highly regarded" individual by Who's Who Legal: Competition and Global Competition Review (GCR).
David lectures on competition law at the University of Lucerne and has authored publications on Swiss and European competition law. He is a member of the Zurich and Swiss Bar Associations, the Association of German-Speaking Competition Lawyers and the International Bar Association's competition committee merger working group. He is the former president of the International Association of Young Lawyers' antitrust commission.
David studied law at the University of Basel (lic iur, 1997) and the College of Europe (LLM, Master of European Law, 2003). Between 2000 and 2008, he was an associate of leading international and Swiss law firms, as well as a teaching assistant at the College of Europe.
David Mamane is “second to none in Switzerland” for international and domestic competition matters. He combines an “extensive international network” with a “strong knowledge of EU competition law”.
David Mamane is a partner and head of Schellenberg Wittmer's competition and antitrust group in Zurich. His main areas of practice are competition and antitrust law, national and international merger control procedures, as well as telecommunications and energy, public procurement, licence and distribution agreements.
His recent expertise includes advising Panalpina Welttransport (Holding) AG, Basel, Switzerland, one of the world's leading providers of forwarding and logistics services, on all transactional competition law questions, as well as co-coordinating the international merger control procedure in more than 12 jurisdictions. He also regularly advises Swiss and international companies (eg, Husqvarna, Bucher Landtechnik, Olympus, etc) in investigations by the Swiss competition authoritiy regarding their distribution systems.
David is recognised as a "most highly regarded" individual by Who's Who Legal: Competition, as Competition Lawyer of the Year at the WWL Switzerland Awards 2020 and Global Competition Review (GCR).
David lectures on competition law at the University of Lucerne and has authored publications on Swiss and European competition law. He is a member of the Zurich and Swiss Bar Associations, the Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV, and the International Bar Association's competition committee merger working group. He is the former president of the International Association of Young Lawyers' antitrust commission. He is also a co-founder of the European Competition Lawyers Association (ECLA; www.competitionlawyers.org).
David studied law at the University of Basel (lic iur, 1997) and the College of Europe in Bruges (LLM, Master of European Law, 2003). Between 2000 and 2008, he was an associate of leading international and Swiss law firms, as well as a teaching assistant at the College of Europe.