Empty Link Skip to Content

Competition and Regulation

Key Contacts view all
EUCompetitionandRegulatory_banner_575x375px copy


"In Ireland, we would only use Matheson."
Chambers Europe

Our Competition and Regulation group is widely regarded as market-leading, and is the largest dedicated group of its kind in Ireland.  The group is ranked as an `Elite' practice by leading trade publication, Global Competition Review (GCR), and consistently features in the highest tier of competition advisers in the top legal directories.  We are a diverse and experienced group of specialists, with many of the group having previously worked in major international competition practices in both London and Brussels.

We adopt a pragmatic and commercial approach to competition and regulatory issues, and we are proactive in flagging and addressing new and novel issues to clients in good time.  The success and growth of the group is built upon the consistent delivery of objectively good outcomes for clients in the most complex competition and regulatory cases.

The group has acted on the majority of the recent complex (Phase 2) Irish merger reviews.  On behavioural competition matters, we are the only Irish practice to have advised on all of the recent high-profile competition investigations by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).  We are also advising on the most complex competition litigation matter currently before the Irish courts.

Our Team

Experience Highlights

We have a strong track record of representing clients on some of the most significant competition cases in Ireland to date.

Our Merger Control Experience includes advising:

  • Three (part of Hutchison Whampoa) on the European Commission’s Phase II investigation of its acquisition of Telefónica Ireland, ‘O2’ resulting in a clearance subject to conditions.
  • On the merger of two of Ireland’s major bakeries, Irish Pride and Pat The Baker, which involved obtaining unconditional Phase I clearance from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).
  • Wexford Creamery on the CCPC’s Phase II investigation into its merger with Glanbia, resulting in an unconditional clearance of the transaction.
  • Aramark on its recent acquisition of Avoca Handweavers Limited, which resulted in a successful unconditional Phase I clearance from the CCPC.
  • The Minister for Finance on the European Commission’s unconditional Phase I clearance of the sale of Irish Life Group to Great West Lifeco, the parent company of Canada Life.

Our Contentious Competition Experience includes advising:

  • On the only follow-on damages action that has been brought before the High Court to date, where we acted for one of Ireland’s leading sugar suppliers, Gem Pack, in seeking  damages for abuse of a dominant position by Irish Sugar.
  • On the only amicus curiae application by the Irish competition regulator before the High Court.
  • On the preparation of a report to the European Commission on Irish law issues in relation to the defence of ‘pass-on’ in the context of private competition law damages actions.
  • Our Behavioural Competition Experience includes advising:
  • On the majority of recent investigations by the CCPC into alleged cartels including attendance at dawn raids, advising on eligibility for the CCPC’s leniency programme and advising on the giving of sworn evidence to the CCPC under its witness summons procedure.
  • Irish and international companies devising and operating exclusive and selective distribution arrangements on exclusive supply and exclusive purchase obligations including minimum purchase obligations, exclusive territories and criteria for selection of authorised distributors.

Our State Aid Experience includes advising:

  • The Minister for Health on the complex State aid issues arising in the private health insurance market, including advising on the position of the State-owned VHI and on the proposed introduction of Universal Health Insurance.
  • The Post Office Ltd on the successful application for State aid clearance for its receipt of UK public funding of around €890 million for providing public services over the period 2015-18.
  • The Industrial Development Agency (IDA) on various State aid issues.

Our Procurement Experience includes advising:

  • An Post, as an awarding authority and as a bidder for public contracts, on a wide range of public procurement law issues.
  • The Minister for Transport on procurement and other issues on the establishment of a competition for an operator of Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport.

Our Regulatory Experience includes advising:

  • Three on a range of regulatory issues, including 2015 High Court proceedings by Vodafone, its successful appeal against decisions of ComReg in the wholesale voice call termination market, and its successful bid to roll out the National Broadband Scheme.
  • An Post on a range of regulatory issues, including on defending a High Court action by ComReg seeking the imposition of a €12 million fine on An Post.
  • Premier Lotteries Ireland, which is subject to regulation under the supervision of the Office of the Regulator of the National Lottery which was established by the National Lottery Act 2013.
  • A broad range of global technology companies on the telecommunications regime in Ireland, including in respect of regulatory obligations under ComReg’s General Authorisation (GA), Fixed Wireless Access Local Area (FWALA) licences and Premium Rate Service (PRS) rules and other sector specific licences.

"The Matheson team has a strong reputation for antitrust matters and is also now providing good advice relating to the imminent Irish foreign investment screening regime. They are our go-to firm for advice on these matters. Other Irish law firms don’t offer the same bench strength or international perspectives in these matters."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2024

"Excellent alignment with in-house team with sound practical advice. In-depth knowledge of the regulator. Excellent response times and availability. Very good to deal with. "
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2024

"The team provided a depth of experience, bringing insights and perspectives from experience elsewhere. The team offers strong coverage which enables a broad agenda to be covered efficiently."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2023

"Exceptionally strong team, very well-led by Niall Collins. Great depth in tech, financial services, and across a range of sectors. The team provides responsive, commercial and on-point advice. Excellent and first-choice in Ireland."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2023

"They are certainly one of the leading Irish competition law practices and know the Irish regulator and courts very well – very capable."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2023

'The team is excellent. It is client-focused and the standard of work produced is excellent - commercial, practical and very well researched.’
Competition/European Law: Chambers 2023

'The lawyers are very responsive and very good at discussing timelines and delivering against the same.’
Competition/European Law: Chambers 2023

'The team offers clear advice to support decision-making’
Competition/European Law: Chambers Europe 2023

'We are very pleased with the service provided by Matheson, not only the legal advice but also in terms of strategy.'
Competition/European Law: Chambers 2023

"A diverse team of commercially astute individuals delivering pragmatic advice relevant for the client’s business."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2022

"Wide knowledge of specific industry sector (postal) and the particular regulatory environment within which it operates. Good understanding of specific challenges encountered when operating within the sector and always willing to offer practical advice on overcoming these challenges."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2022

"Matheson’s EU and competition team provide excellent client service at all times. They are very knowledgeable on all aspects of competition law. They are also able to come up with straightforward and clever solutions to any significant issues that may arise."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2022

"The EU and competition team have supported our business on a number of large and complex transactions and have proven that they have the knowledge and the resources to deliver quality results on time and to a high standard in time critical situations."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 5002022

"Not with standing the specialisation by the partners in their fields of expertise, they appear to be not just knowledgeable but also reasonably up to date in other fields. This type of crossover knowledge and broader informal remit can be extremely useful in devising and advising on case strategy."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2021

"The Matheson EU and competition team blends its deep wealth of knowledge and experience of these particular areas of law with an ability to read its client’s needs and requirements quickly and comprehensively. In my dealings with them, I have found their advice to be solution focused, innovative, and very specific to the requirements of the situation. This is all delivered well within agreed timelines and in a communication style that is both technically excellent yet capable of being clearly understood by those of other disciplines. I have great confidence in the quality of knowledge and service provided by Matheson."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2021

"Matheson have an excellent team in place and have real strength in depth across a number of areas."
EU and Competition: The European Legal 500 2021

The team "are timely and succinct in their advice."
Competition/European Law: Chambers Europe 2021

The team possesses a "depth of knowledge, experience, responsiveness and ability to provide a clear roadmap."
Competition/European Law: Chambers Europe 2021

Merger Control

We advise on requirements for merger control clearance including from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC), the Minister for Communications, and the European Commission.  We have in-depth experience of how to best manage merger control reviews and our team includes a former senior official of the UK Competition and Markets Authority who also spent time on secondment to the CCPC.

We have successfully gained clearance for numerous complex mergers, including EU and Irish clearances at Phase II and subject to behavioural and structural remedies.  We specialise in advising clients on merger control risk when buying and selling businesses, including in competitive bid auctions.  We have in-depth experience across all sectors and markets to include financial services, technology, telecommunications, energy and utilities, healthcare, aviation, and food and beverage.  Matheson has advised on one third of CCPC filings made in 2019/2020.

Experience Highlights

We have advised:

  • On complaints and disputes between contracting parties regarding the enforceability of restrictive agreements.
  • On competition regulatory investigations of the compliance of commercial agreements, including advising INM plc on a CCPC investigation of resale price maintenance allegations.
  • Global market leaders on joint ventures and other co-operation agreements.
  • Global manufacturers on the compliance of their selective distribution system.
  • Bank of Ireland on the CCPC’s full Phase 2 investigation into the proposed acquisition of certain assets and liabilities of KBC Bank Ireland PLC.
  • Link Group on the CCPC’s full Phase 2 investigation into the proposed acquisition of sole control of Pepper Ireland Finance Holdings Limited. (which was withdrawn)
  • Obtained EU and Irish merger approvals for Waystone, on two transformational transactions, an investment by Montagu and HG and the subsequent acquisition of KB associates
  • Independent News & Media (INM) obtaining merger and media merger clearance for its takeover by Belgian media group Mediahuis.
  • Sky plc on obtaining Irish media merger clearance for competing bids for its acquisition by Comcast Corporation (successful) and 21st Century Fox (unsuccessful).
  • A major multinational insurer on obtaining unconditional CCPC clearance to acquire a competitor.
  • On the first ever Phase II ‘media merger’ investigation by the Minister for Communications.
  • On obtaining unconditional EU Commission clearance for two interconditional acquisitions in the health insurance sector.
  • Wexford Milk Producers Limited on the CCPC’s Phase II investigation into its merger with Glanbia, resulting in a clearance of the transaction without conditions.

Advising Three on the European Commission’s Phase II investigation of its acquisition of Telefónica Ireland, ‘O2’, resulting in a clearance of the transaction subject to conditions and on competition and regulatory issues following this clearance.

Commercial Agreements and Competition Compliance

We review commercial agreements for compliance with EU and Irish competition law including advising on devising and operating supply and distribution arrangements including restrictions such as minimum purchase obligations, exclusive territories and criteria for a selection of authorised distributors.  In particular, we have significant experience of advising on joint ventures, distribution agreements, franchise agreements, technology transfer agreements, and selective and exclusive distribution systems.

We also assist clients in the design and implementation of bespoke competition compliance programmes, which minimise the risk of competition law breaches and penalties.  The solutions we offer include: tailored training and policies on competition compliance; and competition compliance audits.

Regulatory Enforcement and Dawn Raids

We advise on competition investigations by EU and Irish regulators, including in particular by competition regulators.  We act for clients subject to investigations and clients reporting issues to a regulator, advising on all stages of an investigation from attending a Dawn Raid, witness summons, information requests, leniency applications, internal investigations, settlement negotiations, litigation and implementing remedies.

We have also developed a “Dawn Raid – Smart Response” app. The app is the first of its kind in Ireland, and helps companies manage a key risk: being subject to a regulatory dawn raid. The app can be customised to clients’ needs. It facilitates smooth management of a raid, preparedness for a raid, and provides insight into our unparalleled expertise in this area.

Experience Highlights

We have advised:

  • On dawn raids and witness summonses in connection with the ongoing EU Commission and CCPC investigations of the Irish motor insurance sector, including attending a four-day dawn raid by the EU Commission in 2017.
  • A global ticketing company in connection with the CCPC’s ongoing investigation of the secondary ticketing market.
  • On the majority of recent cartel investigations by the CCPC, including making applications under the CCPC’s leniency programme and advising on criminal law aspects of investigations.
  • On conducting mock dawn raids to test clients’ preparedness for a dawn raid.
Competition Litigation

We advise on contentious competition cases, including the first follow-on action and the only action involving an amicus curiae application in Ireland to date. We have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in some of the most significant competition cases before the Irish courts, including anti-competitive agreements, abuse of a dominant position and follow-on damages actions. We also have experience of litigation before the European Courts in Luxembourg.

Experience Highlights 

We have advised:

  • ASL Aviation on proceedings against the EU Commission seeking damages of over €200m arising from the prohibition of the UPS/TNT merger.
  • Sports Direct on High Court proceedings between Sports Direct and Heatons regarding non-compete restrictions.
  • A multinational technology company on a recent High Court action taken by Ryanair involving a complex mix of intellectual property and competition law issues.
  • Multiple clients including a State body in the successful defence of High Court proceedings alleging abuse of dominance.
  • Leading Irish sugar supplier, Gem Pack in successfully settling the first follow-on damages action to be brought before the High Court, seeking damages for abuse of dominance.
State Aid

We specialise in State aid rules and regularly advise clients on the applicability of these regimes and the remedies available to them.  We have advised the State in respect of allegations of State aid and have represented the State before the European Commission.  We advise alleged beneficiaries of State aid on the relevant EU and Irish rules applicable to them.  We have also made numerous complaints to the European Commission alleging the grant of prohibited State aid, and been involved in investigations by the European Commission.

 Experience Highlights

We have advised:

  • A number of major energy companies on State aid complaints to the EU Commission.
  • On State aid issues connected to the National Broadband Plan.
  • RTÉ, the national broadcaster, on State aid allegations and an EU Commission investigation.
  • Post Office Ltd on repeated successful applications for State aid clearance from the EU Commission for its receipt of more than £1 billion of public funding for the provision of Services of General Economic Interest.
Public Procurement

We have in-depth expertise in public procurement issues.  We advise suppliers, awarding authorities and the State on public procurement law challenges.  We have advised clients in respect of High Court proceedings seeking set aside and damages and in respect of complaints to the European Commission.

Experience Highlights 

We have advised:

  • Sport Ireland on its development of the National Indoor Arena.
  • Numerous bidders on successful legal challenges of tender decisions.
  • On the most lengthy and complex tender in recent Irish history, the National Broadband Plan.
  • The Minister for Transport on procurement of an operator for Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport.
Regulated Sectors

We regularly provide EU and Irish advice across a wide range of regulated sectors, such as telecommunications, broadcasting, postal services, life sciences, food / grocery, energy and transport (including aviation, bus and rail).

We have advised many listed companies and market leaders including on compliance and engagement with sector-specific regulators in the context of licensing, regulatory compliance,  and enforcement in particular.  These regulators include, for example, ComReg, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA), the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI), the Commission for Aviation Regulation, and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC).  We keep abreast of regulatory developments and assist clients in understanding the often complex and technical regulations that apply to their business.

We have also advised clients on appeals and challenges to regulatory decisions made by Irish regulators, including by way of judicial review.

Experience Highlights 

We have advised:

Telecoms: Three on a range of regulatory issues and engagements with ComReg, including High Court proceedings by Vodafone, and its successful appeal against decisions of ComReg in the wholesale voice call termination market.

Postal Services: The national postal company on a range of regulatory issues, including defending a High Court action by ComReg seeking the imposition of a €12 million fine for alleged late delivery of mail.

Broadcasting: Traditional and non-traditional broadcasters on compliance with BAI Codes and licence obligations, including on the implications of the EU AVMS Directive and amendments to radio licences, including Discovery, Virgin Media and RTE. Acted for Sky Ireland on High Court litigation against ComReg in relation to pricing and access decisions relating to the Irish broadband market.

Governmental: The Department of Job, Enterprise and Innovation on introducing new rules on the supply of groceries under the Groceries Regulations regime in order to control the bargaining power of large retailers vis a vis food suppliers.

Life Sciences: Multinational life sciences companies on regulatory and pricing matters arising during the life cycle of medicinal products including Medical Devices and Medicines, in addition to the compliance of pricing and discounting proposals made during reimbursement applications.

Travel: In terms of travel regulation, on the complex web of laws which apply to the sale of travel services in Europe. This includes advising on compliance with EU laws, including the Package Travel Directive, and national laws which may require registration, licensing, insolvency and bond protection.

Airports: DAA on regulatory price control matters and appeals of regulatory decisions.