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Thought Leaders

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Mario Strebel
Watch interview with Mario Strebel

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Mario Strebel is “one of the best in Switzerland” for competition law and impresses with his “strong commitment to the cases he works on” as well as his “excellent knowledge of relevant case law”.

Questions & Answers

Mario Strebel heads the competition, trade and regulatory practice group of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd (MLL) in Zurich. He is a dedicated and pragmatic lawyer with extensive experience in his area of expertise which covers all aspects of competition law, distribution law, and matters arising at the interface of regulated markets (particularly network industries) and competition law. He advises and represents Swiss and international clients in all these fields of law and regularly publishes articles and gives presentations. Other practice areas include compliance and internal investigations as well as public procurement and unfair competition law matters.

What inspired you to pursue a legal career?

The regulation of economics had already fascinated me while I was at school. This, and the fact that a legal background offers a wide range of opportunities and sectors to work in, attracted me. In parallel with my university studies, I started my professional career as a part-time associate with the local legal department of a globally active construction material company. There, I experienced the application of the law in practice, which confirmed to me that this was the right track to follow. The lectures on competition law, and my first postgraduate position with the Secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission, finally aroused my interest in this specific area of specialisation  – an interest that has never left me.

What do you find most stimulating about working in competition law?

I enjoy the strong economic context of competition law, the variety of work and its international context. A comprehensive understanding of the industry sectors and markets in which clients are active is required to identify and assess the relevant questions, and to advise and represent them in an optimal manner. The fact that competition law has many interfaces with other fields of law – for example, M&A transactions and IP law – makes this area even more exciting. Finally, competition law developments, particularly those in the European Union, have a significant impact in Switzerland and thereby provide this area of law with exciting international aspects.

How has competition law changed since you started your career?

Among several competition law developments in Switzerland that have evolved since I began my career, I consider the following two to be the most significant. First, the introduction of direct fines in 2004. As a result, competition law has become much more important for companies active in the Swiss market, along with numerous compliance tasks. Second, the increasingly strict attitude of the authorities and the courts towards specific anticompetitive agreements (ie, horizontal and vertical hard-core restrictions) that have been qualified as illegal and subject to direct fines without examination of any actual effects on the relevant markets.

To what extent will big data and AI become relevant in the field of competition law?

Several aspects have to be considered in this regard. First, big data and AI have become increasingly relevant for the companies’ market conduct and the potential competition law issues arising from such conduct – for example, the assessment of algorithmic pricing, price crawling, etc. Second, big data, in particular, is liable to become more and more important for competition authorities in tracking and assessing the effects of certain market behaviour. Third, the importance of big data and AI is likely to increase for law firms when conducting internal investigations in competition law cases, in order to track and assess potentially illegal conduct. Hence, I expect that big data and AI will become indispensable for all stakeholders in the field of competition law.

You regularly represent international clients in Switzerland. To what extent might law and policy reform encourage greater inward investment?

Amendments to the legal and/or competition policy regime often increase the inward investments by clients, since they frequently lead to an increased need for counselling and compliance. In that regard, two reforms that are currently in the competition law pipeline of the Swiss legislator can be mentioned. First, the popular federal fair price initiative, which has the tagline, “Stop the island of high prices.” This initiative promises to create the basis for effective legal measures against abusive Swiss surcharges, and to guarantee the non-discriminatory procurement of goods and services abroad by introducing the concept of “relative market power” into the Swiss Cartel Act. The Federal Council recommends the rejection of this popular initiative by bringing forward an indirect counterproposal, also based on the concept of relative market power but regulating import issues only. Second, the motion “Geoblocking. Will Switzerland miss the boat again? Task force on digital free trade now!” calls on the Federal Council to set up a task force on digital free trade in order to be able to remove trade barriers such as geoblocking as soon as possible.

How do you anticipate the Swiss legal market changing in the next five years? How might this affect your practice?

I expect an increased demand for competition compliance work and, in particular, more proceedings originating from international, multi-jurisdictional leniency and cartel cases (especially parallel proceedings before the European Commission and the Swiss Competition Commission). In addition, a higher number of M&A transactions, leading to more merger control notifications compared to the past decade, is possible. Specifically, highly consolidated industries are likely to face more competition law investigations, as well as the challenge of intense remedy assessments in merger control proceedings. In particular, the latter will increase when the SIEC test is introduced, which seems not unlikely.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners starting their career?

I would give younger practitioners the following advice that might be of value. First, gain as much experience as possible in various positions (ie, private practice, in-house and with the authorities and/or courts). Second, be hungry, curious and seize the opportunities whenever they present themselves to you!

Global Leader

Competition 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mario Strebel is “one of the best in Switzerland” for competition law and impresses with his “strong commitment to the cases he works on” as well as his “excellent knowledge of relevant case law”.

Biography

Mario Strebel is a partner and leads the competition, trade and regulatory practice group of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd (MLL) in Zurich. He is a dedicated and pragmatic lawyer with extensive experience in his area of expertise which covers all aspects of competition law, distribution law and matters arising at the interface of regulated network industries and competition law. Mario advises Swiss and international clients in all of these matters and represents them before the Swiss authorities and courts, including merger control filings, leniency applications, private enforcement litigation and appeal proceedings. He regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on these topics, including compliance seminars and dawn-raid workshops. Other areas of his practice include telecom regulation, public procurement and internal investigations.

Mario obtained a master’s in law from the University of Zurich in 2003 and a postgraduate degree from Kings College London in 2012 (LLM in competition law). He was admitted to the Bar in Switzerland in 2008 and is a member of the Swiss and Zurich Bar Association, the competition law group of the Zurich Bar Association as well as the chairman of the Swiss working group of the Study Association for Competition Law (Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV). Mario is a listed expert with the Swiss Franchise Association and a neutral arbitrator with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. His professional career began as a part-time associate of a globally active construction material company from 2001 to 2003 and a scientific collaborator with the secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission from 2004 to 2005. Before joining another major Swiss law firm from 2012 to 2016, he had already worked for MLL for about five years.

MLL is one of the most reputable international business law firms in Switzerland. More than 100 experienced and dynamic lawyers form a strong team of specialists that stand for innovative and solution-focused services. With offices in Zurich, Geneva, Zug, Lausanne and Brussels MLL is present in the key Swiss economic centres and in the heart of Europe. MLL’s competition, trade and regulatory practice comprises two partners, two counsel and five associates, specialising particularly in cartel and dominance proceedings and merger filings, compliance programmes and day-to-day compliance with competition law regulations.

National Leader

Switzerland - Competition 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Mario Strebel is highly praised by market commentators for his “profound knowledge of Swiss competition law” as well as his “ability to quickly identify the legal problem at hand”.

Biography

Mario Strebel is a partner and leads the competition, trade and regulatory practice group of Meyerlustenberger Lachenal Ltd (MLL) in Zurich. He is a dedicated and pragmatic lawyer with extensive experience in his area of expertise which covers all aspects of competition law, distribution law and matters arising at the interface of regulated network industries and competition law. Mario advises Swiss and international clients in all of these matters and represents them before the Swiss authorities and courts, including merger control filings, leniency applications, private enforcement litigation and appeal proceedings. He regularly publishes articles and gives presentations on these topics, including compliance seminars and dawn-raid workshops. Other areas of his practice include telecom regulation, public procurement and internal investigations.

Mario obtained a master’s in law from the University of Zurich in 2003 and a postgraduate degree from Kings College London in 2012 (LLM in competition law). He was admitted to the Bar in Switzerland in 2008 and is a member of the Swiss and Zurich Bar Association, the competition law group of the Zurich Bar Association as well as the chairman of the Swiss working group of the Study Association for Competition Law (Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV). Mario is a listed expert with the Swiss Franchise Association and a neutral arbitrator with the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Centre. His professional career began as a part-time associate of a globally active construction material company from 2001 to 2003 and a scientific collaborator with the secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission from 2004 to 2005. Before joining another major Swiss law firm from 2012 to 2016, he had already worked for MLL for about five years.

MLL is one of the most reputable international business law firms in Switzerland. More than 100 experienced and dynamic lawyers form a strong team of specialists that stand for innovative and solution-focused services. With offices in Zurich, Geneva, Zug, Lausanne and Brussels MLL is present in the key Swiss economic centres and in the heart of Europe. MLL’s competition, trade and regulatory practice comprises two partners, two counsel and five associates, specialising particularly in cartel and dominance proceedings and merger filings, compliance programmes and day-to-day compliance with competition law regulations.

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