During the past 15 years, as State aid issues have moved to the forefront of European competition policy, Latham has offered clients a leading practice in European Union (EU) State aid enforcement. Lawyers in the firm’s Hamburg, Brussels, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Paris and London offices have extensive experience with all aspects of the European Commission’s (Commission) enforcement practice and the litigation of State aid issues before the European Courts and, increasingly, before the national courts of the EU Member States.
Latham’s team offers clients valuable insights into the economic, legal and political context of the Member States that are most involved in State aid proceedings, in particular Germany, Spain, Italy, France and the UK, as well as in the emerging economies of Eastern Europe. Latham’s experience working for the Commission and working in the State aid units of the Directorate-General for Competition provides a clear advantage to clients wishing to secure fast and reliable information as to the status of matters pending before the Commission.
Privatizations and Investment Decisions
Privatizations and acquisitions of companies which have received State aid in the past involve intricate State aid considerations in the due diligence process. Latham advises government entities, investment banks and potential investors on the State aid aspects in privatizations, as well as in Commission investigations subsequent to privatizations.
Competitors Harmed by State Aid
Despite the limited formal procedural rights of third parties in EU State aid procedure, Latham assists companies seeking to prevent unfair advantages to their competitors by crafting effective complaints to the Commission and making their views known in formal investigation procedures and subsequent EU court proceedings.
Defense of State Aid Beneficiaries
Latham also helps (alleged) State aid beneficiaries to overcome their procedural disadvantages in Commission investigations, by proactively developing and implementing defense strategies in close coordination with national governments.
Representation and Defense of State Aid Donors
Latham counsels governmental agencies and government-controlled public undertakings that offer economic benefits to companies on the applicable State aid rules, advises them on how to draft compliant investment contracts, and drafts formal State aid notifications to the Commission on their behalf.
Latham’s Hamburg and Brussels offices have extensive experience handling State aid litigation that results from recipients, public authorities or competitors challenging the Commission’s decisions, and complainants challenging the Commission’s failure to investigate aid allegations. Latham also represents State aid beneficiaries, competitors and State aid donors in litigation before national courts.