Interview with: Thomas Rhyl, Attorney at Law, Partner
NJORD Law Firm | View firm profile
What has been your greatest achievement, in a professional and personal capability?
To win all the cases I’ve litigated before the Court of Justice of the European Union – whether representing the EU Commission, global corporations, or private individuals – has been a welcome reward for the countless hours spent on specializing and keeping up to date in the dynamic field of EU law. Keeping ahead in a field where the finest lawyers from all of Europe compete requires a constant and dynamic interaction with both clients, scholars, and my own team, and to build such relationships has been very rewarding, in each and every case fought over the years. On a personal level, it has been a great pleasure to see pro bono work being rewarded with the Grand Chamber of the CJEU overturning Danish immigration law in 2016, reversing more than 12 years practice of illegally refusing children of migrant workers to live with their parents: All refusals have now been reversed, and the families reunited.
What do you do differently from your peers in the industry?
Although I have to delegate work to members of my team, I take pride in knowing and understanding every aspect of my clients’ business and situation, keeping in constant close touch. My clients are my friends, and quite a few of them have become personal friends as well. These close relationships constantly provides me with new insights and in-depth knowledge, making me well-prepared to deal with all kinds of legal problems, as a generalist and not just as an extremely focused specialist.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To have faith in the fact that dedication, solid expertise, and professionalism will win you the best clients in the longer run: Networks aren’t the only key to winning business. And to specialize early on in an area of law where you are not limited to a small jurisdiction like Denmark in your work as a lawyer: Mastering EU competition law, you can help clients all over Europe and the world.
Can you give me a practical example of how you helped a client add value to the business?
By limiting parallel imports of pharmaceuticals. Persuading the CJEU to overturn a judgment of the German Supreme Court and ruling against the EU Commission, I succeeded in reminding courts around Europe of the importance of protecting the rights of trademark owners, allowing original manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to limit the detrimental re-packaging and re-branding of parallel imported products. The whole industry eagerly welcomed the 2016 judgment.
Within your sector, what do you think will be the biggest challenge for clients over the next 12 months?
To ensure that the competition authorities, as well as the regulatory bodies of the different Member States, do not become omnipotent, but are constantly reminded to respect the rule of law and the rights and privileges of undertakings. Aiming to please those currently in power, rather than to ensure a correct implementation of EU law, seems to be increasingly important to many enforcers in both the Nordics and around Europe.