The free market economy is based on competition. The European Commission and the national competition authorities are tasked with ensuring that this competition is free and fair. Houthoff’s Competition Team advises and assists national and international companies, institutions and governments in procedures before the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the European Commission, foreign competition authorities, and the relevant (specialised) courts. Its expertise includes merger control procedures, dawn raids and investigations into alleged cartels or abuse of dominance and State aid. Our Competition Team has detailed legal and economic expertise and sector-specific knowledge. We combine legal and economic analyses to achieve optimal solutions and litigation strategies.

The team is located in both Amsterdam and Brussels and is known for its strategic and pragmatic approach, precedent-setting cases, and thought leadership. The Brussels team has a particular focus on State aid.

  • “One client stated: 'we received responses from Houthoff in a timely manner, the advice given is always of a high quality and it is always a pleasure to work with the team'.”
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2024 Edition)
  • "A client mentioned: ‘A very proactive team that not only takes care of imminent tasks but looks ahead and provides guidance on how to best take care of matters ahead’."
    Legal 500, Competition/European Law (2024 Edition)
  •  "A client mentioned: 'Houthoff is our go-to firm in the Netherlands. It has a deep bench of lawyers who are pragmatic and commercial and are a pleasure to work with'."
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2023 Edition)
  • "One client said: 'the Houthoff team has an excellent eye for what is important and commercially relevant for clients'."
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2023 Edition)
  • "A client says: 'the team has been great in navigating through new waters and building up persuasive arguments before the Dutch court'."
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2023 Edition)
  • "One client said: ‘Houthoff can handle all kind of cases with an exceptionally high level of quality.’"
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2023 Edition)
  • "A client mentions: ‘The strength of the team lies in the fact they are knowledgeable about the transport sector and are therefore able to give practical advice.’"
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2023 Edition)
  • “A client praises the firm for its ‘commercial and common sense approach to the work’.”
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2022 Edition)
  • “Houthoff is strong in international matters. Good network, high quality.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2022 Edition)
  • “Houthoff has a swift and responsive team with good sectoral knowledge. They are also very proactive in suggesting new ways of collaborations and billing.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2022 Edition)
  • “The Houthoff team is very knowledgeable and all-round which enables them to serve as our “one-stop-shop.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2022 Edition)
  • “The team is very supportive and responsive, meeting all of our needs. The team is very meticulous in all of its legal analysis and focused on preparing for important court filings well ahead of time.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2022 Edition)
  • “Interviewees endorse the firm for its scope, one asserting that ‘it has a combination of technical excellence and commercial pragmatism.’”
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2021 Edition)
  • “A clients homes in on the firm’s ‘practical approach.’”
    Chambers Europe, Competition/European Law (2021 Edition)
  • “They are knowledgeable, respond quickly and are able to present difficult material clearly.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2021 Edition)
  • “The Competition team at Houthoff has genuine strength in depth – an excellent group of partners supported by an expert team of associates. Collectively, they are experts in their field and a pleasure to work with.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2021 Edition)
  • Recommended
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2021 Edition)
  • “Team players, very well aware of the legal framework, strong communication skills, feeling for the business, looking for the limits of what is feasible and responsible.”
    Legal 500, EU and Competition (2021 Edition)


A merger, acquisition or joint venture may require prior notification to the competent competition authority or competition authorities. With experience in more than 250 merger notifications, including notifications in all major jurisdictions, our specialists are able to provide excellent advice on the opportunities and strategies involved in these processes.

Our Competition Team has been involved in innovative vertical integrations, including between map maker Tele Atlas and TomTom and, more recently, complex horizontal mergers, including the merger of the AMC and VUmc university hospitals.


Houthoff has a strong track record in cartel cases including the landmark T-Mobile case on cartels and the concept of ‘object restriction’ before the European Court of Justice. Our Competition Team has also assisted in many national and international cartel investigations and leading abuse of dominance cases like the high profile NS (Dutch Railways) case before the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets. See Competition Litigation for our expertise and experience in the area of cartel damages claims.


State aid rules forbid the state from conferring selective commercial advantages on companies without prior notification to the European Commission. A failure to notify or to correctly utilise an exemption to notification or to meet the requirements of the market economy operator criterion can have far-reaching financial consequences. An investigation by the European Commission or a judgment from a Dutch court can result in an obligation for the company benefiting from aid to repay the financial advantage to the state, with interest. Moreover, an agreement resulting in unlawful State aid may be found to be void in whole or in part in legal proceedings.

Our specialists have extensive experience designing projects that are State aid compliant and, where necessary, representing clients before the European Commission, national courts and European courts. For example, we successfully represented the Dutch Municipality of Eindhoven in the European Commission's investigation into allegations that State aid had been provided to the Dutch football club PSV.

  • Advised Titan, a leading independent liquified biomethane (LBM/bio-LNG) and LNG supplier to the maritime and industrial sectors, on a successful funding round leading to InfraVia obtaining (through one of its investment vehicles) a 45% equity stake in Titan.
  • Advised Torraspapel, part of the Lecta Group, on the acquisition of Avery Dennison's Offset Pressure Sensitive Sheet Business EMENA. Torraspapel will take over manufacturing and selling Avery Dennison's portfolio of FASSON™ and JAC™ branded self-adhesive papers in EMENA, which will allow Lecta to further expand its activities in specialty markets.

  • Houthoff advised Zwanenberg Food Group on all competition law related aspects of its acquisition of Struik Foods Europe. Houthoff obtained clearance for the deal from the Dutch ACM and comfort from the CMA with the assistance of Travers Smith. This transaction creates a significant operator in the field of soups, sauces, preserves and convenience meals. Zwanenberg Food Group employs 1,600 people who together achieve net sales of € 420 million. Struik Foods Europe, which achieves annual sales of €120 million, employs 200 people. Houthoff's team was led by Gerrit Oosterhuis.


  • A team from Houthoff led by Gerrit Oosterhuis secured clearance for the acquisition of an important production facility of Unilever by Zwanenberg, one of the leading Dutch producers of meat products.
  • Early 2017, Profile launced a campaign in which it alleged that 'Profile Brand Service' (Profile Merkonderhoud) was much cheaper (up to 28%) than the service of the authorised repairers. It did not use and trademark rights of car manufacturers.

    Again, Houthoff acted on behalf of 18 car manufacturers and made an end to the Profile campaign, as Profile was unable to demonstrate that it was always much cheaper than the authorised repairers.

  • The growing importance of e-commerce creates conflicting interests between manufacturers or wholesalers and retailers, particularly if these retailers perceive the activities of their suppliers as unfair competition for their stores. Houthoff has supported the franchisees of one of the Ahold banners in working out a solution that seeks to find a solution for this by introducing rules, a compensation scheme and clear rights and obligations for both parties.
  • Advising university medical centres in public tender procedures for IT and electronic medical files.
  • Advising on the establishment of internet pharmacies including various regulatory and competition aspects of internet sales of pharmaceutical products.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Representing Total in a follow-on damage claim.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Represented of the municipality of Eindhoven in the formal investigation of the European Commission on presumed state aid to footballclub PSV.


Competition matters are often very sector-specific. Our Competition Team brings together the experience and knowledge of the specific sectors required for this, including in the areas of Food and Agriculture, Real Estate, Manufacturing, Energy, Transport, Healthcare, Life Sciences and TMT (technology, media and telecom). Our expertise on TMT in particular covers aspects such as digital competition, which includes e-commerce and online platforms. This broad range of knowledge and skills has enabled Houthoff to successfully assist our clients in many sector-specific cases, including the merger between waste processing companies Shanks and Van Gansewinkel, the acquisition of the baking giant Bakkersland by Brogesius, many hospital mergers (including in Rotterdam, Tilburg, Haarlem/Hoofddorp and Amsterdam), the acquisition of large parts of Uniekaas by the German dairy product giant DMK, and the purchase of a substantial real estate portfolio by the American company CBRE.


The Houthoff Dawn Raid website provides information on unexpected inspections by the authorities in the Netherlands, including the ACM and the European Commission. Visit the Houthoff Dawn Raid website.

Yvo de Vries

Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner

Key Contact

Advocaat | Partner
Greetje van Heezik

Key Contact

Advocaat | Counsel