Our clients rely on our staff and experts for objective assessments and clearly explained analyses. Our staff and experts provide economic expertise and analyses in the full spectrum of competition investigations under national and EU law.

Competition Capabilities

Cartels and Horizontal Agreements

‘Horizontal’ co-operation agreements are between competitors at the same level of the supply chain. In these matters, we assess the economic incentives of the alleged participants, and test hypotheses that distinguish competitive from collusive behaviour. We assist on cases involving:

  • Research and development agreements
  • Production agreements, including subcontracting and specialisation
  • Purchasing agreements
  • Commercialisation agreements
  • Standardisation agreements
  • Information exchange

Anti-Competitive Vertical Agreements

‘Vertical’ co-operation agreements are between market participants at different levels of the supply chain. The European Commission’s Vertical Restraints guidelines accept that competition concerns can only arise from vertical agreements if there is insufficient competition at one or more levels of the supply chain, i.e. at the supplier and/or buyer levels. Moreover, vertical restraints are generally less harmful than horizontal restraints and may provide substantial scope for efficiencies.

We assist on cases involving:

  • Single branding agreements
  • Exclusive dealing agreements
  • Exclusive customer allocations
  • Selective distribution agreements
  • Franchising
  • Category management agreements
  • Tying agreements
  • Resale price restrictions
  • Most Favoured Nation (MFN) restrictions
  • Non-compete type restraints

Mergers and Acquisitions

We help clients navigate all stages of merger investigations, whether they are in front of national competition authorities, the European Commission or are subject to regulatory scrutiny on both sides of the Atlantic and elsewhere.

Our experts’ deep knowledge of our clients’ markets supports relevant and robust economic and econometric evidence for investigations. Counsel also benefit from our deep expertise of competition economics, accounting, data science and survey methods.

Conduct by Dominant Firms

Abuse of dominance cases may involve allegations of exclusionary or exploitative conduct by a dominant firm against rivals in the marketplace. Such exclusionary conduct may lead to harm to consumers through increased prices, less innovation and reduced quality.

Private Enforcement Actions for Damages

Private actions for damages can be stand-alone allegations of anti-competitive conduct or agreements pursued through the courts. Alternatively, they may ‘follow-on’ from a competition agency’s decision that a firm’s conduct amounted to an abuse of dominance or formed part of an illegal anti-competitive agreement.

Cornerstone Research experts have deep expertise in assessing both the substance of allegations in stand-alone cases and also, in particular, the quantum of competition damages in follow-on cases.

  • Damages from cartels or other anti-competitive horizontal agreements
  • Damages from anti-competitive vertical agreements
  • Damages from exclusionary or exploitative abuse by a dominant firm

Market Investigations and Sector Inquiries

Our experts have deep experience of market investigations (sector inquiries). Specifically, we have worked to support clients in such cases in a number of jurisdictions including in front of the CMA in the UK and the South African Competition Commission.

In such cases, we work as expert economic and financial advisers for parties subject to a market investigation. Doing so can entail a variety of roles including supporting external legal advisers providing economic advice to corporate boards, supporting in-house project teams managing the firm’s contributions to an inquiry, and developing expert economic submissions to help inform the competition agency’s evaluation.

Our role may encompass:

  • Developing in-house perspectives of both likely and desirable outcomes from an inquiry
  • Responding to competition agency working papers and provisional findings
  • Helping to prepare senior management before their participation in agency hearings
  • Developing economic and financial submissions drawing on a client’s own data
  • Developing economic and financial submissions based on market-wide data when this is made available to economic advisers via disclosure rooms or confidentiality rings
  • Easing the burden on management involved in responding to a large volume of substantial agency questions about the detail of a client’s businesses. For example, on past cases we have provided management with draft questionnaires well in advance of the CMA issuing its own market and financial questionnaires.
  • Advising on likely agency interpretations of the available documentary evidence and data.

State Aid

EU Member states sometimes subsidise undertakings on a selective basis. Such subsidies could take many forms including tax relief, guarantees, or providing goods and services on preferential terms.

State aid measures are those which affect trade between member states and, in particular, would distort competition by providing the recipient with advantages on a selective basis, for example to specific companies or industry sectors, or to companies located in specific regions.