EU and competition in Netherlands
De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek has a strong track in the space and covers the full spectrum of EU and competition law. Cartel-related matters are a core strength and practice head Jolling de Pree is representing Philips in an appeal to the European Court of Justice concerning the alleged smart card chips cartel. Alongside Daan Beenders, de Pree is acting for British Airways in multiple follow-on actions in the Netherlands relating to the alleged air cargo cartel. Former practice lead Martijn Snoep has taken the chairman position at the regulator, the ACM. Helen Gornall, who joined from AkzoNobel in 2018, was promoted to the partnership in 2019. Damages litigation and enforcement activities are other key areas of expertise.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s practice is headed by Onno Brouwer and Winfred Knibbeler, who specialise in European anti-trust cases, including cartel and abuse of dominance matters. Brouwer is defending Anheuser-Busch InBev in an investigation launched by the European Commission, in June 2016, into alleged abuse of dominance relating to parallel trade in the European beer market. Knibbeler is advising Blackstone private equity funds on numerous transactions, valued at $20bn. Paul van Den Berg, Elske Raedts and Alvaro Pliego Selie are other names to note.
Pels Rijcken & Droogleever Fortuijn NV’s ‘excellent and pragmatic’ team has a significant practice representing private clients in cartel damages proceedings, merger filings and advisory work, as well as government representation. The team is acting as counsel for ArcelorMittal in an action for cartel damages initiated by Deutsche Bahn. The team was strengthened by the arrival of Marleen Botman from a teaching position and PhD programme at Free University Amsterdam in January 2018. Erik Pijnacker Hordijk leads the team.
Stibbe's team stands out for its ‘quality knowledge and assistance’. Group head Rein Wesseling and Christof Swaak, who has ‘excellent strategic and tactical skills’, are acting for Nederlandse Spoorwegen and its former CEO and CFO in an abuse of dominance case brought by the ACM. Wesseling and Jeroen Kortmann are defending Heineken against a damages claim; the duo recently secured a favourable jurisdiction decision. Floris ten Have, who was promoted to the partnership in 2019, has done significant work on EU merger control matters for Aurobindo and Dossche Mills.
Allen & Overy LLP
Allen & Overy LLP’s ‘clear and practical’ team is 'well-informed about competition law and state aid' and is 'able to translate legal issues to the reality on the ground'. It has has notable expertise handling merger control, state aid, internal compliance and cartel litigation matters, among others. ‘Pragmatic and commercial’ practice head Kees Schillemans led advice to ABN Amro, following European Commission allegations that banks in the Netherlands have blocked fintech rivals from gaining legitimate access to customer information. ‘Dedicated’ state aid expert Yvo de Vries ('able to place the legal issues involved into a broader political context') acts for shipping company Spliethoff in litigation before the General Court and Court of Justice of the European Union. Counsel Marinus Winters and senior associate Emma Besselink are also recommended.
Bird & Bird LLP’s competition and public procurement practice is a key name for clients in the information technology, communications, electronics, media, energy, banking and financial services sectors. Well-regarded practice head Pauline Kuipers provides ongoing advise to MasterCard on competition-related topics pertaining to its interchange fees. Janneke Kohlen and Hein Hobbelen are also noted.
Dentons’ ‘strong and in-depth’ group 'sets itself apart from its competitors by offering a high-quality team service', according to one client. It has expertise across the spectrum of competition law, including antitrust litigation, state aid and public procurement. ‘Stand out’ group head Marc Kuijper and Michel Deckers ('deep experience and analyses'), are acting as lead counsel to 11 Vestel companies as claimants in proceedings before the Court of Den Bosch seeking relief for damages from parties that participated in the cathode ray tube cartel, which has been fined by the European Commission. Special adviser Frederieke Leeflang and associate partner Bram Braat, who stands out for his 'skills in European tenders', are other names to note.
Praised for its ‘sound industry knowledge and professionalism’ Houthoff’s team further stands out for its 'specific industry knowledge and high-quality associates'. Enforcement and technology-related competition issues are key strengths. Group head Weyer VerLoren van Themaat is representing VBO Makelaar, an association of realtors, in civil proceedings before the court of Amsterdam against Funda, the dominant online real estate portal in the Netherlands. Counsel Gerrit Oosterhuis, who has 'a solid legal knowledge combined with a very pragmatic and hands-on approach', is representing a Dutch-listed food and consumer goods wholesaler on its proposed acquisition of Heineken’s wholesale operations. Laura Parrett left for professorship at Utrecht University in December 2017. Berend Reuder joined Stek as a partner in July 2018.
Loyens & Loeff’s team has 'a practical and co-operative approach' and has developed particular expertise in the healthcare sector. Key names include Professor Gert-Wim van de Meent, recently promoted partner Marc Wiggers, PhD and counsel Marc Custers. Natasja Brusik and Robin Struijlaart are the names to note at senior associate level.
NautaDutilh’s group ‘balances a theoretical but pragmatic approach’ and provides 'clear, concise and prompt advice'. Its workload includes competition-related transactions and litigation. Co-group heads Herman Speyart and the ‘effective’ Barbara Nijs advise clients including Bencis, Sansei Technologies and Vivendi.
Banning NV has 'a very knowledgeable group of practitioners with a very accessible and hands-on style of working'; it has a strong reputation for domestic cartel litigation work. In recent work it has been handling compliance issues for Heidelberg Cement. ‘Knowledgeable and hands-on’ practice head Minos van Joolingen is 'an experienced competition law practitioner who is able to explain difficult concepts in a very accessible manner'. Silvia Vinken left the firm.
BarentsKrans’ competition and public procurement team is noted for its ‘efficiency and easy access to partners’ and its 'strong and thorough knowledge of competition law'. It is headed by the ‘practical' and ‘business-minded’ Joost Fanoy, who advises BCD Travel on all competition law aspects (behavioural and merger control) of the setup of a worldwide joint venture. Senior associate Gijs van Midden and cartel damage claims specialist Martijn van Maanen are also recommended.
Brinkhof’s team is 'very committed to delivering high-standard legal services' and has 'a detailed and thorough knowledge of matters of domestic and EU regulatory laws and is quick to deliver hands-on advice'. ‘Knowledgeable’ and ‘analytical’ group head Pepijn van Ginneken is 'very quick to give on the spot analyses and advice with business sense'; he is leading advice to Rabobank on its investment in a nationwide telecoms network roll out in the Netherlands. The well-regarded Quinten Kroes is also working on this matter and is another name to note.
Maverick Advocaten N.V. 's team has ‘a pro-active approach’ to matters and provides 'a high service level, quick response times and adequate advice and action'. Martijn van de Hel stands out for his 'in-depth expertise and excellent communication skills'. Bas Braeken is representing FOX Networks in an appeal of the ACM’s decision to end investigation into alleged price discrimination by FOX. Well-regarded Diederik Schrijvershof co-leads with van de Hel and Braeken. Two senior associates departed in mid-2018, Mattijs Bosch and Joris Ruigewaard, both left private practice.
Simmons & Simmons has developed its EU and competition practice with the recruitment of Robert Hardy as counsel from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Practice lead Koen Platteau is representing Aegon before the ACM in relation to its acquisition of Robidus from Avedon Capital Partners. Alongside Jean-Pierre van Leeuwe, he is also advising CRH, a building materials group, on the sale of its DIY business to a US real estate investor.
Stek's expertise takes in multi-jurisdictional cartel cases, merger control work and strategic advice on vertical competition law among others. Co-lead Ruben Elkerbout is assisting Wrist Ship Supply Group with securing first-phase clearance of its proposed acquisition of Klevenberg Shipping Center. Berend Reuder joined as a partner in August 2018 from Houthoff, and Linde Bremmer joined in December 2017 from CMS.
Van Doorne is appreciated for its ‘daring approach to solutions’, by one client and it has notable strengths in the healthcare, retail, education, media and financial services sectors, among others. The ‘excellent’ Sarah Beeston is acting for Fortum Holdings, the Dutch arm of a Finnish energy company, on the merger control assessment of part of its assets to a UK investor. Beeston leads the team jointly with Gijs Verberne. Anouk Rutten has taken a chief compliance officer role at the firm.
AKD’s department is praised for its ‘open communication’ and its ‘clear and accurate’ advice and 'ensures that actions are promptly taken'. In one highlight, the group is acting for Dutch conservation organisation Vereniging Natuurmonumenten in proceedings brought before the EGC concerning allegations that various Dutch nature conservation organisations received illegal state aid; practice head Pieter Kuypers, who is based in Brussels, is leading on this matter. Senior associate Joost Houdijk is also noted. Kees Jan Kuilwijk, previously counsel at the firm, left for Pactumius, a legal services provider.
Baker McKenzie 's team is particularly rated for its ability to act on cross-border matters and its 'accessible' team has 'a wide range of knowledge'. Its work spans ACM investigations, internal corporate investigations, merger control and compliance. The team is headed by ‘highly skilled and pragmatic’ of counsel Christiaan van der Meer, who represented Intrum Justitia, Europe’s largest debt collection agency, in an ACM investigation into whether it engaged in unfair trade practices vis-à-vis consumers. Frank Kroes acted as for Eastman Chemicals, as the claimant, in injunctive relief proceedings based on a stand-alone abuse of dominance claim. Paul Amberg joined as a partner from the firm's Chicago office.
Clifford Chance’s practice is headed by senior associate Frans Muller, who specialises in cartel investigations, behavioural antitrust issues and compliance as well as multi-jurisdictional merger control matters. He is advising Tele2 on the proposed merger of its Dutch operation Tele2 Netherlands with T-Mobile Netherlands, the Dutch subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom. EQT is another major client. Joachim Schütze is a notable senior partner.
At CMS, the team ‘has a reassuring pragmatic and knowledgeable approach’. Group head Edmon Oude Elferink and senior associate Annemieke Hazelhoff acted for Oaktree Capital on the sale of Dental Clinics to Nordic Capital. Robert Bosman, who splits his time between Brussels and Amsterdam, acted as co-counsel alongside Fieldfisher, to Japanese shipping firm Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha, following a fine of €141m imposed by the European Commission in February 2018 for cartel activity.
DLA Piper's competition practice, which is led by Léon Korsten, is defending Uralita in cartel damages litigation brought against it and three other companies by litigation funder CDC. Legal director Martijn van Wanroij and senior associate Sophie Gillam are also singled out. Janet Meesters joined as a legal director from Houthoff in June 2018.
At Eversheds Sutherland (Netherlands) B.V., the practice has developed a reputation for its guidance and assistance with international cartel investigations in the energy and maritime industries. It has additional expertise in public procurement law, litigation and merger control matters within the technology, retail and healthcare sectors. Michel Chatelin heads the practice, which includes senior associate Eline van Nimwegen.
HVG Law LLP’s team represents Alpro in longstanding litigation initiated by the Dutch Dairy Association. Practice head Misha Lutje Beerenbroek and state aid specialist Steven Verschuur are noted. The practice, which is part of EY's integrated multi-disciplinary platform, also handles a steady flow of cross-border work.
Kennedy Van der Laan 's team 'works efficiently and is focused on the bigger picture'. It has notable strength handling competition matters in the banking and finance, retail and healthcare sectors. Annemieke van der Beek assisted the Dutch Payments Association during a dawn raid and is acting for the client in an ongoing investigation by the European Commission into its role in the alleged misconduct by Dutch banks surrounding their payment accounts and third party access. Martine de Koning, who is 'very dynamic', and senior associate Martijn van Bemmel are other names to note.
At Linklaters, managing associate Maikel van Wissen, who is 'calm, friendly, collaborative and very responsive' and is 'good on strategy as well as the more detailed points', leads the team. Competition litigation is a key area of strength and van Wissen is acting for Mediahuis in proceedings brought by Talpa regarding Mediahuis’s merger with TMG. In other work, van Wissen, together with the London office, also advised SIX Group on the auction sale of its payment services division to Worldline. Corporate partner Pieter Riemer is another name to note.