Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for May 8th, 2012

The European Commission’s Legal Service

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One of the good things about this blog is that it enables us to give credit to the people who, in our view, deserve it.

Today it’s the turn of the European Commission’s Legal Service.

Why them? Because many of the most brilliant jurists and many of the most reasonable and kind people that I have come across in my professional life were/are members of the Commission’s Legal Service. We won’t cite individual names because it would be unfair to those not mentioned, but also because the list would be too long.

These guys know competition and State aid law inside out, but they also know there are other provisions in the EU Treaties; they have the uncomfortable mission of second-guessing the case team’s work and of facing lawyers in Courts; they don’t have the same means and tools that big firms have; they sometimes have to fight armies of lawyers with the help of only one or two colleagues; they have an unbearable workload (Fernando Castillo de la Torre recently told us that he’d had more than 20 oral hearings last June!); and still they win most cases. And when they win there are two options: (a) either other people get the credit; or (b) everyone blames the Court for getting things wrong. That’s not always fair; I have worked with, and most often against, them, and in every single case they did an outstanding job.

Were Court submissions in the EU not confidential (query: should they?), people would realize the importance that the Legal Service has had in shaping up competition law.

All of this sounds like we are buttering them up but, frankly, it´s what we think. We seldom see their work praised in public (praising the ones on the other side of the table is not always common whereas demonizing the Commission is), so we decided to take it upon us to say that the work these guys do is to be acknowledged.

We said above that some of the most brilliant and nicest people in the competition law we’ve met in the competition law world belong to the Legal Service. We are very proud to anticipate that one person who fits perfectly into this description, Eric Gippini-Fournier, will be our next “Friday Slot” interviewee. (P.S. Click here for the interview)

Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

8 May 2012 at 6:18 pm