Gowling WLG

London

Gowling WLG represents a natural evolution for its founding firms - Gowlings and Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co - who, throughout their histories, have continually adapted to better serve their clients' needs.

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Updates

Competition & Antitrust

When does competition law apply to public bodies? Recent guidance from Competition Appeal Tribunal
United Kingdom | 03 December 2020

In the context of a claim brought by Strident Publishing Limited against Creative Scotland, the Competition Appeal Tribunal has reiterated that UK and EU competition law applies to a public body only where it is acting as an 'undertaking'. The judgment provides helpful guidance for the purposes of assessing whether a public body is acting as an undertaking, such that UK or EU competition law would apply to its activities.

Merger control: CMA's ability to reject remedy proposals
United Kingdom | 26 November 2020

In April 2020 the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) dismissed a challenge by Ecolab, Inc of the Competition and Markets Authority's (CMA's) decision in its final report on Ecolab's completed acquisition of The Holchem Group Limited, including in relation to the CMA's required divestiture remedy. The CAT's judgment confirms the CMA's ability to reject proposed remedies where it does not have a high degree of confidence that they will effectively address identified competitive concerns.

Retailers and suppliers face enforcement risks regarding RPM
United Kingdom | 19 November 2020

In June 2020 the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) made a number of announcements regarding certain investigations into resale price maintenance (RPM) within the UK musical instruments sector. However, these announcements have wider consequences in the context of the CMA's enforcement activities more generally in relation to RPM.

Merger control: greater scope for government intervention
United Kingdom | 12 November 2020

The government has published details of the National Security and Investment Bill, which will introduce a foreign direct investment screening regime in the United Kingdom. This follows on from recent revisions to the UK merger control regime, which introduced a new public interest criterion (in relation to public health emergencies) and lowered the jurisdictional thresholds applicable to certain activities in the United Kingdom (relating to AI, cryptographic authentication technology and advanced materials).

UK competition authority continues to penalise individuals for competition law infringements
United Kingdom | 12 September 2019

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently publicised the disqualification of three individuals from acting as directors as a consequence of their company's involvement in an infringement of UK competition law. In view of the CMA's commitment to enforcement actions and to ensuring that directors are held personally responsible for competition law compliance, individuals and organisations should, among other things, proactively consider the extent of any potential exposure that they may face.

Investment planning: factoring in UK merger control regime
United Kingdom | 29 August 2019

The acquisition of a minority shareholding (which satisfies the jurisdictional criteria under the UK merger control regime) without obtaining clearance presents a range of legal and commercial risks for parties, including that the Competition and Markets Authority could ultimately order the acquisition to be undone. This article highlights some ways for parties to identify and understand the extent of the risks of an acquisition.

Acquisitions of minority shareholdings under UK merger control regime
United Kingdom | 15 August 2019

The Competition and Markets Authority can open an investigation and impose initial enforcement orders where it has reasonable grounds to suspect that two or more enterprises have ceased to be distinct. This includes circumstances in which an acquirer purchases only a minority shareholding in the target because, under the UK merger control regime, two or more enterprises cease to be distinct where they are brought under common ownership or common control.

Use of IEOs in completed transactions
United Kingdom | 08 August 2019

Where the Competition Market Authority (CMA) opens an investigation into a completed transaction, it will generally impose an initial enforcement order (IEO). In addition, the CMA can impose IEOs in the context of planned transactions, but anticipates that it will do so relatively rarely in practice. In the context of a completed transaction, an IEO aims to ensure that the acquired business continues to compete with the acquiring business and is maintained as a going concern during the course of the CMA's investigation.

Competition and Markets Authority's ability to investigate completed transactions
United Kingdom | 01 August 2019

Under the UK merger control regime, while parties can notify transactions and obtain clearance from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) before completion, there is no legal requirement to do so. However, if parties do not obtain clearance before completion, the CMA can still investigate. Therefore, a completed transaction is potentially at risk of investigation during the four-month statutory period.

Corporate Finance/M&A

Global Britain? Rules, Britannia: Britannia screens the investment waves
United Kingdom | 02 December 2020

The government recently published the National Security & Investment Bill. In a marked contrast to its 'Global Britain' aspirations in a post-Brexit world, the bill will create a mandatory screening regime for investment in certain core areas of the UK economy in which national security risks are considered more likely to arise. This article considers the key implications of the proposed new regime for investment in the United Kingdom.

International Trade

State of play: new subsidy control regime
United Kingdom | 12 February 2021

EU state aid law ceased to apply to the United Kingdom on the expiry of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020 – save for limited exceptions as set out in the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement 2018. In its place, the UK government proposes to establish a domestic subsidy control regime, on which it has launched a public consultation. This article explores the current state of play and what will happen next.

World Trade Organisation: an introduction
International | 05 February 2021

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is an umbrella organisation providing the forum for negotiation, treaty revision and dispute settlement. The WTO currently has 164 members, accounting for 98% of world trade. This article provides an overview of the WTO, including its origins, membership, structure, mandate and decision-making processes.

Integrated defence and security review
United Kingdom | 29 January 2021

In September 2020 the government launched the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Foreign Policy and Development to review all aspects of international and national security policy, such as ideology, defence, diplomacy, reputation, finance, trade policy, military power and national resilience. This article provides an overview of the developments which have occurred since the review was announced and the expected findings.

Time is running out to reclaim hundreds of thousands in overpaid customs duties
United Kingdom | 18 December 2020

With the Department of International Trade set to replace the free trade agreements (FTAs) that the United Kingdom has enjoyed as part of its EU membership, this article considers the last 'hurrah' available under these agreements: the claim back of overpaid duties. Businesses should also consider their altered exposure to customs duties where the United Kingdom has not negotiated 'rollover' FTAs, or they have expired, and in light of new UK FTAs.

Global Britain? Rules, Britannia: Britannia screens the investment waves
United Kingdom | 27 November 2020

The government recently published the National Security & Investment Bill. In a marked contrast to its 'Global Britain' aspirations in a post-Brexit world, the bill will create a mandatory screening regime for investment in certain core areas of the UK economy in which national security risks are considered more likely to arise. This article considers the key implications of the proposed new regime for investment in the United Kingdom.