Getting to the heart of competition policy

Economics is essential to understanding the competitive dynamics of markets, and economic evidence is a critical part of many competition law cases. Frontier Economics advises high-profile clients before the European Commission, national competition authorities and national courts on all aspects of competition policy.

Looking beyond the obvious

We work closely with both clients and legal counsel, providing a mix of strategic advice, creative problem-solving and technical support.  Technical excellence is a given – and we have the skills and experience to pre-empt issues and  tackle challenges in new and unexpected ways.

We also know that managing a large competition case can be as big a challenge for our clients internally as it is externally.  We speak the same language as our clients’ commercial colleagues and understand the importance of building strong relationships with the people whose day jobs are being disrupted by the regulatory process.

Mergers and acquisitions

Gaining regulatory approval is a major issue for many transactions.  We are experts in providing support throughout the competition authority approvals process, with a long track record across many jurisdictions and sectors.  We are also often involved in regulatory risk assessments at the early stages of potential transactions.

We provide extensive and flexible support to clients and their legal counsel, helping them to: 

  • Quickly identify the critical aspects of a case
  • Collect and analyse the relevant evidence with a view to shaping the deal, minimising risk and designing potential remedies
  • Prepare written submissions
  • Respond effectively and efficiently to competition authority requests
  • Provide empirical analysis and respond to technical analysis by the competition authority
  • Prepare for face-to-face interactions with the competition authority at meetings and oral hearings
Market investigations

Some competition authorities are entitled to open wide-ranging investigations into markets to explore whether competition is working effectively.  These reviews are often long and intensive and can result in intrusive remedies.  We help clients to navigate these processes and provide critical advice, as well as empirical economic and financial analysis, on the issues central to the case. 

We have been deeply involved in a large number of market reviews across many jurisdictions and market sectors.  In the UK we have advised main parties on all of the market investigations undertaken by the CMA under the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act and almost all of the inquiries carried out under the preceding Enterprise Act. 

We provide extensive and flexible support to clients and their legal counsel, helping them to: 

  • Pre-empt the competition issues that the investigation might identify
  • Understand the authorities’ concerns
  • Analyse and address these issues
  • Design appropriate remedies that are both effective and proportionate
Abuse of a dominant position

If a business has acquired a dominant position in a market, it may face special restrictions on its practices to ensure that it does not abuse its position. 

It is often impossible to distinguish between anti-competitive and legitimate forms of conduct without careful scrutiny of the prices, costs, and behaviours of the firms involved and the features of the markets in which they operate. 

We specialise in assessing these behaviours and features to identify whether there is evidence of harmful, exploitative or exclusionary conduct, including: 

  • Excessive and discriminatory pricing
  • Predatory pricing, cross-subsidy and exclusionary discounts
  • Product bundling and tying
  • Refusal to supply and exclusionary vertical restraints
Horizontal and vertical agreements

Agreements between firms can give rise to beneficial outcomes for customers, but some can cause consumer detriment.  Competition authorities are increasingly using economic analysis to identify where agreements generate positive effects for customers and where they may cause harm. 

Our team has extensive experience in analysing the economics of horizontal and vertical agreements.  We assist clients with contract design and risk assessment, as well as in formal proceedings before competition authorities and courts.

Private enforcement

The European Commission and individual European states encourage private enforcement of competition cases and claims for damages when competition law is broken. 

Dispute support – assisting clients involved in such cases prior to and during trial – is a key aspect of what we offer. 

We advise clients in establishing or defending against allegations of a breach of Article 101 or 102 TFEU before the courts. We also provide support in follow-on actions after competition authorities have made decisions. 

Our role typically involves some or all of the following: 

  • Assessing liability: Does the firm have a dominant position and did it abuse it? Were the relevant agreements or other types of joint conduct anti-competitive and were there offsetting efficiency benefits?
  • Identifying causation: Did a breach or certain type of conduct cause harm to another party? Were there other economic reasons for the outcomes seen in the market?
  • Calculating quantum: What was the damage to customers or competitors from the actions in question?
  • Support throughout out-of-court or court proceedings: We support clients in settlement discussions or produce expert reports and give oral testimony in a court setting
Competition appeals

Companies may have the right to appeal the decisions of competition authorities.  Our expertise in competition policy, combined with our capabilities in identifying and distilling evidence means that we are able to provide high-quality advice that clients require throughout an appeal.

Appeals can be made on procedural grounds, but they are often based on the substance of an authority’s case: if it has failed to articulate properly its reasoning or has based its decision on inadequate evidence.

We provide extensive and flexible support to clients and their legal counsel, helping them to: 

  • Formulate the appeal case
  • Convey the arguments in a straightforward and compelling way
  • Provide evidential and analytical support
  • Produce expert reports and give oral testimony