Bernardine is utterly client-focused and brings technical cutting edge advice to every matter on which she works, with a proven ability to keep sight of the 'bigger picture'.
A graduate of the College of Europe, Bruges, Bernardine has a wealth of over 25 years' EU, trade and competition law experience, providing clients with strategic advice before the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly, the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission).
Bernardine has a strong reputation as an innovative competition litigator advising on some of the most high-profile and complex cases in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. She has particular expertise in relation to damages claims (defendant and claimant) and also the IP/competition interface.
Having spent many years living and working in Brussels, she has a sound understanding of the European Union institutions and an enviable network of contacts within the Brussels Community.
Consistently recognised as a 'leading individual' by legal directories, she is described in Chambers as a "heavyweight antitrust specialist".
Bernardine is a member of the advisory board of the Competition Law Forum at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, American Chamber of Commerce Competition Policy committee, the Competition Law Association and the Law Society Competition Section.
Bernardine is also widely published, being an authoress of 'Air Transport and EU Competition Law' (Sweet and Maxwell) and is the General Editor of Private Antitrust Litigation (Thomson Reuters). She has recently contributed to: Merger Control - Jurisdictional Comparisons (3rd edition), published by Sweet & Maxwell; and Merger Control 2018, published by Chambers & Partners.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.