EU

EU

EU law has a huge impact on almost all sectors and businesses. In many sectors, fair competition in the internal EU market is ensured through highly detailed and complex regulations relating to market access, production processes and products and services offered on the market.

Houthoff’s EU Team has considerable experience with regulations in a wide range of areas, including REACH, regulations relating to food, biocides, and automotives, and regulated sectors such as rail travel. The team also has a thorough knowledge of substantive and institutional EU law and the fundamental freedoms of movement for goods, services, persons and capital. They advise different international manufacturers on highly specific EU regulatory aspects.

  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "The ‘very knowledgeable’ and ‘easily accessible’ team at Houthoff Buruma is well equipped to handle the full range of competition matters, both contentious and non-contentious."
     
    Legal 500, EU and competition (2016 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    ”The team has great knowledge of our industry, the legal environment and the processes. The lawyers react very quickly, coming up with understandable positions when responding to certain developments."
     
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2016 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "Its knowledge of the market combined with its knowledge of the legal thresholds is very useful, and the lawyers are very responsive."
     
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2016 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "Houthoff Buruma has the size and experience to handle the full range of competition law matters."
     
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2017 Edition)
  • recommendation people shaking hands
    "I think they have very broad expertise; there is always someone in the firm who can help you with a question. They're quick to respond."
     
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2017 Edition)
Our EU Team combines its thorough knowledge of EU law with extensive experience in representing clients before the European Commission and litigating in the EU courts (European Court of Justice and the General Court of the European Union). As such, the team's members regularly advise on presenting EU law arguments in national proceedings. The EU Team was, for example, involved in the national test case by Nationale Nederlanden that resulted in a preliminary ruling procedure before the ECJ.

Clients engage our EU Team when they discover unfair competition resulting from the incorrect application or interpretation of EU law or national protective measures. These could include discriminatory taxes or other obstacles to the free movement of goods, such as branded products or medications.

Our EU Team can be relied on for effective involvement in the decision-making processes of the EU institutions, and the effective exercise of rights arising under EU law in national or EU legal proceedings.
  • Houthoff represented Sligro Food Group in the strategic, long-term partnership with Heineken Netherlands for beer and cider logistics in the Netherlands, and the sale of other parts of the Heineken beverages wholesaler to Sligro Food Group. The partnership makes Heineken Sligro’s number one partner for beer and cider.

  • Houthoff assisted the AMC and VUmc hospitals in obtaining the required approval from the Netherlands Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) for an administrative merger. The approval enables the two Amsterdam-based university medical centres to cooperate on patient care, research, education and training without limitation. This will create the biggest university medical centre in the Netherlands.
  • Houthoff is representing the association of realtors, VBO Makelaar, in ongoing civil proceedings before the court of Amsterdam against Funda. Funda is the largest online real estate portal in the Netherlands and a subsidiary of the largest association of realtors in the Netherlands, NVM. The case is one of the few Dutch cases based on abuse of dominance. The case revolves around discriminatory practices by Funda to the detriment of VBO Makelaar's members, including:

    - ranking listings of VBO Makelaar’s members systematically lower than listings of NVM’s members.

    - charging VBO Makelaar’s members significantly higher prices for advertisements than NVM’s members.
  • Houthoff advised Media Markt – Saturn on the establishment of a joint venture with Talpa, Juke Nederland B.V. Juke has launched an online on-demand music streaming service offering unlimited access to songs, playlists and radio content.
  • Representing various large construction companies such as BAM, in state aid litigation on contracts for the realisation of major projects concluded before the financial crisis.
  • Advising public bodies and renowned companies on the state aid rules applicable to the roll-out of broadband, environmental taxes, sustainable energy, major regional investment projects and agriculture.
  • Advising corporates on their position vis-à-vis public authorities in tender procedures, and litigation before the Dutch courts.
  • Representing an undertaking in proceedings before the ACM regarding an alleged cover pricing cartel in the construction sector.
  • Advising a US based company on the introduction and distribution of new medical devices in the Netherlands/EU.
  • Advising university medical centres in public tender procedures for IT and electronic medical files.
  • Advising both public bodies and large construction companies on state aid rules in relation to contracts for the realisation of various prestigious projects. In many cases, the financial impact of the application of the state aid rules in the concerned multimillion projects can be considerable.
  • As reported in the news (most recently 4 April by BBC), in March 2013 the European Commission started a formal state aid investigation against the Netherlands in several cases concerning presumed state aid to football clubs. The most important case concerns presumed state aid to PSV, one of the largest clubs in the Netherlands. In this case, we represented the municipality of Eindhoven. The cases involving football clubs have received considerable attention in the press. The investigation is ongoing and proceedings against the opening of the second phase state aid investigations have been initiated before the General Court of the EU. In view of recent case law, we defend the view that such an appeal is possible. The judgment of the General Court on this is awaited eagerly by state aid law specialists. We are involved in other investigations on state aid to football clubs, which investigations are not yet public.
  • Representing Nationale-Nederlanden, a major insurance company in a preliminary procedure (case C-51/13) before the EU Court. The case concerns questions from the Rotterdam court on the interpretation of EU directives on the life insurance sector and more specifically the pre-contractual information requirements imposed on insurers. The EU Court has ruled in favour of Nationale-Nederlanden on 29 April 2015. The judgement has caused an avalanche of comments and publicity because of the major impact of this case in the sector. Procedures will now continue in many other cases before the national courts based on this judgment.
  • Representing Total in a follow-on damage claim.
  • Advising on the establishment of internet pharmacies including various regulatory and competition aspects of internet sales of pharmaceutical products.
  • Advising pharmaceutical wholesale companies on various regulatory aspects of the distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices including the notification, packaging/labelling requirements and CE-marking.
  • Advising a US based company on the regulatory aspects of the introduction and use of electronic devices that produce radiation in the Netherlands.
  • Representing a premier league football club, FC Twente, in court proceedings against a well-known brewer, Grolsch. The competition law based claim about the price of beer was first rejected in injunction proceedings but after filing pleadings in the procedure on the merits, we succeeded in obtaining a very favourable settlement for our client and the procedure was withdrawn.
  • In June 2013 the Rotterdam Court of first instance ruled in favour of the Limburg building company in the appeal proceeding against a fine imposed by the Dutch Competition Authority. The case of the Competition Authority was based on information obtained from the public prosecutor. In a landmark judgment, the Court ruled that this transfer of information was done in violation of fundamental rights. This case was appealed by the Competition Authority and the State (public prosecutor) before the Court of Appeal (CBB). The appeal centred exclusively on fundamental rights and the limits on the exchange of information between the public prosecutor and the Dutch competition authority which makes it a landmark case in national competition law. The CBB has annulled the judgment in the first instance and referred the case back to the court in Rotterdam.
  • Representing almost all (major) medicines wholesalers in the Dutch market. The past year did not bring major litigation in trade packaging and (re)labeling pharmaceuticals, but we were as before very active in advising on parallel trade issues, repackaging and relabeling medicines. We have noticed a rise in questions and discussions on the SPC-mechanism (supplementary protection certificate for protected medicines) in relation to imports from the new (Eastern European) member states.
Weyer VerLoren van Themaat

Key Contact

Amsterdam
Advocaat | Partner
+31 20 605 61 83
+31 6 5365 5833
Gerrit Oosterhuis

Key Contact

Brussels
Advocaat | Counsel
+32 2 507 98 13
+32 4 7394 8686
Greetje van Heezik

Key Contact

Brussels
Advocaat | Senior Associate
+32 2 507 98 10
+32 4 7586 8593