Cases by Area of Law


The Netherlands and ING v European Commission

Case C-224/12P European Commission v The Netherlands and ING Groep EU:C:2014:213 On appeal from Cases T-29 and 33/10 The Netherlands and ING Groep v European Commission EU:T:2012:98

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan
Area of law: State aid
Summary: During the financial crisis, the Dutch financial group ING received a € 10 billion capital injection from the Dutch government. Together with a separate measure transferring a portfolio of illiquid US mortgage bonds, this constituted State aid and the Commission required ING to implement a substantial restructuring package. The repayment terms for the capital injection were subsequently revised; the Commission considered that this constituted further aid of around € 2 million and required additional restructuring measures. Matthew assisted ING in successfully challenging this finding in an appeal to the General Court that raised complex issues on the application of the ‘market economy investor’ principle to amendments to capital injections that themselves constitute aid and on the Commission’s ability to impose restructuring obligations when approving State aid measures. The General Court found that in agreeing to amend the repayment terms the Dutch government could have acted as a private investor holding the same securities would have done. As the Commission had not considered the possible application of the principle, the General Court annulled the finding that the revision was aid. The General Court also held that the Commission had unlawfully imposed the restructuring obligations and that they had not been offered voluntarily by ING and the Dutch government to obtain State aid approval. Matthew represented ING in successfully defending the Commission’s subsequent appeal to the EU Court of Justice.

The Netherlands and ING v European Commission

Case C-224/12P European Commission v The Netherlands and ING Groep EU:C:2014:213 On appeal from Cases T-29 and 33/10 The Netherlands and ING Groep v European Commission EU:T:2012:98

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan
Area of law: State aid
Summary: During the financial crisis, the Dutch financial group ING received a € 10 billion capital injection from the Dutch government. Together with a separate measure transferring a portfolio of illiquid US mortgage bonds, this constituted State aid and the Commission required ING to implement a substantial restructuring package. The repayment terms for the capital injection were subsequently revised; the Commission considered that this constituted further aid of around € 2 million and required additional restructuring measures. Matthew assisted ING in successfully challenging this finding in an appeal to the General Court that raised complex issues on the application of the ‘market economy investor’ principle to amendments to capital injections that themselves constitute aid and on the Commission’s ability to impose restructuring obligations when approving State aid measures. The General Court found that in agreeing to amend the repayment terms the Dutch government could have acted as a private investor holding the same securities would have done. As the Commission had not considered the possible application of the principle, the General Court annulled the finding that the revision was aid. The General Court also held that the Commission had unlawfully imposed the restructuring obligations and that they had not been offered voluntarily by ING and the Dutch government to obtain State aid approval. Matthew represented ING in successfully defending the Commission’s subsequent appeal to the EU Court of Justice.

Solvay v European Commission

C-455/11P Solvay v European Commission EU:C:2013:796 on appeal from Case T-186/06 Solvay v European Commission EU:T:2011:276

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan
Area of law: Competition law
Summary: Matthew represented multinational chemical manufacturer Solvay in its EU court appeal against a decision by the European Commission to fine it € 167 million for involvement in a cartel between European hydrogen peroxide manufacturers. This case raised issues concerning both the concepts of ‘agreement’ and ‘concerted practice’ under EU competition law and the application of the Commission’s Leniency Notice, under which it reduces fines for companies that inform it of illegal cartel activity. Before the General Court, Matthew successfully obtained a reduction of € 28 million in the fine: the Commission had wrongly determined the duration of Solvay’s participation in the cartel and had not taken sufficient account of Solvay’s cooperation when applying its Leniency Notice. He also represented Solvay in a further appeal to the EU Court of Justice, successfully defending the Commission’s cross-appeal that the fine should be increased.

 

Low & Bonar v European Commission

Case T-59/06 Low & Bonar plc v European Commission EU:T:2011:669

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan
Area of law: Competition law
Summary: Matthew successfully represented Low & Bonar in challenging a fine imposed on it for a subsidiary’s involvement in a cartel between European manufacturers of industrial bags. He demonstrated that the subsidiary had only participated in meetings between Belgian and Dutch manufacturers and was unaware of an overall cartel at the European level. Accordingly, the General Court reduced the fine by 25%.

Embraer v European Commission

Case T-75/10 Embraer v European Commission

Barrister: Matthew O’Regan
Area of law: State aid
Summary: In 2009, the European Commission approved a repayable investment of £ 114 million by the UK Government made to Bombardier Aerospace for its new C-Series programme. The investment supported research and development activities by Bombardier’s plant in Belfast into new composite wing technology. Matthew had assisted Bombardier in obtaining this approval. He also represented Bombardier as an intervener in a legal challenge brought by a competitor, the Brazilian manufacturer Embraer, including drafting Bombardier’s written observations to the General Court. In 2012, and prior to a hearing before the Court, Embraer decided to discontinue its challenge.