Brian Hartnett is managing partner of our Brussels office and co-chair of our Competition-Antitrust practice. Since entering private practice in 1983, Brian has focused on the laws of the European Union (EU) with a particular emphasis on the application of European competition rules (including the state aid rules). He is a barrister and member of both the English and Irish Bars. Brian originally worked in the Competition Directorate of the European Commission and has for the past 27 years represented US- and Europe-based companies both as plaintiffs and defendants before the Commission in Brussels and the European Courts of Justice in Luxembourg.
He has extensive experience across a broad range of sectors including in the telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, financial services, petrochemicals, IT and media, and retail (FMCG). The 2016 edition of Chambers Global, 2016 edition of The Legal 500 EMEA, 2012 edition of Legal Experts Europe, Middle East & Africa and the 2011 edition of PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook acknowledge his expertise in EU competition and antitrust law. He has been recognized as the “Cartel Lawyer of the Year” by International Competition Magazine and was one of two competition lawyers worldwide to be recognized as an “all-star” in the BTI annual global survey.
Brian has been involved in some of the most significant cartel, state aid and merger cases within the EU during the past 20 years. Most recently, he has been retained as defence counsel in a wide range of cartel cases including the Air Freight, LCD Screen, Optical Disk Drive, Refrigeration Compressors and Car Components cases.
In the state aid field he has successfully represented major multinationals in actions against Member States, both before the Commission and the Courts and equally has successfully defended companies the subject of a Commission investigation. He acts as counsel to national governments and has recently successfully defended the Slovak State in a state aid investigation.
In the area of merger control, Brian regularly represents parties seeking to obtain approval for complex transactions before either the European Commission or national competition authorities. Over the years he has been involved in some of the largest and most significant mergers and joint ventures.
Brian also represents companies in competition cases before national competition authorities including in the UK, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic and Ireland.
Brian has written extensively in the field of EU competition law. He is a member of the Irish Society for European Lawyers, the Brussels Association of Irish Lawyers and the International Bar Association.