Sebastian is a partner in Arnold & Porter’s global antitrust and competition group. His practice includes advising on German and European competition and antitrust laws, including multi-jurisdictional merger control proceedings, cartel proceedings, abuse-of-dominance proceedings, litigation and compliance programmes. Sebastian also advises in the fields of national security; foreign investments and export control; IP; data protection and privacy (GDPR); corporate law; and outsourcing.
Describe your career to date.
After concentrating my legal studies on IT and technology, the topic of my dissertation was the use of digital signatures as evidence in civil procedures. I started working as an IP/IT lawyer in 2000. Two years later, I joined Kaye Scholer as its first associate in Germany. In 2004 I had the privilege of working in Kaye Scholer’s New York office; I became counsel in 2006 and partner in 2009. In 2017, Kaye Scholer merged with Arnold & Porter.
What inspired you to pursue a career in competition law?
What is particularly interesting about antitrust law is the economic focus of our job. I find it extremely interesting to understand clients’ businesses, their products, the markets, and how these all interact It is the complexity of the clients, the economic circumstances and the markets that keeps my work challenging and very interesting.
What is the most interesting case you have worked on in your career so far?
I have had the privilege of working on many high-profile cases and transactions. I don’t think there is the one case, but I thought the rescue of UBS in the financial crisis with a volume of US$ 60 billion was very interesting, as well as the transaction setting up BoostAeroSpace with Safran, Airbus, Thales and Dassault, among other significant matters. I also like antitrust damages litigation, which is very interesting and highly complex, and where I am active in several cases, including flour, sugar, car parts, shipping and trucks.
What are your thoughts on Germany’s recent competition law draft and the new tools they are considering?
Probably in early 2021, the new competition law in Germany will bring far reaching changes. The draft bill published in January 2020 signals big changes and will provide powerful tools for the German Federal Cartel Office (FCO), with a clear focus on digital platforms. Also, the amendments regarding access to data are particularly extensive. The FCO seems to be ahead of many other agencies when it comes to new approaches against big players, but it remains to be seen what that means in practice.
To what degree are competition authorities becoming more sophisticated and increasingly digital?
In recent years, the European Commission, the FCO and other agencies have dealt with several major cases turning around huge volumes of data. After hiring data analysts and experts I think the agencies in fact became much more sophisticated and increasingly digital, even though this process will require additional investments and staffing at the agencies.
How does your work in other areas of law enhance your competition practice?
Besides competition and antitrust law, I also do transactional work, including M&A and outsourcing transactions. I also advise clients on data protection and privacy issues, which is often a key issue in complex matters such as internal investigations; compliance management systems; dealing with competitors and cooperations; and due diligence procedures. We have seen more situations of this kind recently, where antitrust and privacy issues interact and play a key role.
What makes Arnold & Porter stand out from its competitors in the market?
Arnold & Porter has an excellent and well-known global antitrust team, with approximately 120 attorneys in the USA and the EU. We handle highly complex and critical competition matters, and are recognised for our breadth, depth and excellence throughout the industry and among our peers.
What is the best piece of career advice you have been given?
Young people should focus on what they like and what they are good at. Competition is tough and you have to work hard to get to the top.