Bernardine is utterly client-focused and brings technical cutting edge advice to every matter on which she works, with a proven ability to keep sight of the 'bigger picture'.
Qualified as a solicitor (England and Wales) and a Belgian avocat (Brussels – Francophone bar) and a graduate of the College of Europe, Bruges, Bernardine has a wealth of over 25 years' EU, trade and competition law experience, providing clients with strategic advice before the European Commission and the Competition and Markets Authority (formerly, the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission). In addition, Bernardine advises upon issues arising in the context of the National Security and Investment Act 2021 ("NSIA"), and in relation to the UK's post-Brexit subsidy control regime.
Bernardine has a strong reputation as an innovative competition litigator advising on some of the most high-profile and complex cases in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, the High Court and the Court of Appeal. She has particular expertise in relation to damages claims (defendant and claimant), and also the IP/competition interface.
Having spent many years living and working in Brussels, she has a sound understanding of the European Union institutions and an enviable network of contacts within the Brussels Community.
Consistently recognised as a 'leading individual' by legal directories, she is described in Chambers as a "heavyweight antitrust specialist".
Bernardine is a member of the advisory board of the Competition Law Forum at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law, and is Vice-Chair of the Competition Policy Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce to the European Union.
Bernardine is also widely published, and recently contributed to "Merger Control – Global Practice Guide", published by Chambers & Partners, and contributed to and co-edited "Foreign Direct Investment Regimes", published by ICLG.
Dawn raids and competition investigations
Acting in the Galvanised Steel Water Tank cartel case, which was the first case where the question of individual criminal responsibility resulting from breaches of UK competition law was put to a jury. Bernardine acted for a manufacturer of construction inputs, including attending the initial dawn raid and advising in relation to making an application for leniency.
Bernardine was listed in The Lawyer's 'Hot 100', and her team won the British Legal Awards 'Litigation and Regulatory Team of the Year' when she acted for Thomas Vale Construction plc in appealing the magnitude of the penalty imposed by the Office of Fair Trading (the "OFT") following its largest ever investigation into competition law infringements in the UK. Her advocacy in the case, which was recognised in the judgment, resulted in the overturning of established case law, and in the OFT determining to change its fining policy.
Acting for various other businesses subject to investigation by competition authorities and sector regulators.
Acting for Preventx, an innovative technology company providing vital remote testing services for sexually transmitted infections, in the context of a dispute with Royal Mail ("RM") regarding RM's trading conditions. Advised by Bernardine, Preventx brought a claim alleging an abuse of a dominant position, and sought an interim injunction, which the High Court granted. The parties subsequently settled the matter, and entered into a commercial arrangement. The team's swift action avoided the need for prolonged litigation and a full trial, and enabled Preventx to focus on expanding and developing its service offering. Bernardine's team received the "Competition Team of the Year" award at the Legal Business Awards for its work on this matter.
Acting for Dixons Carphone plc (now Currys plc) in relation to bringing multi-million pound claims for damages against certain MasterCard entities before the High Court and the Competition Appeal Tribunal, based upon the European Commission's infringement decision over multi-lateral interchange fees.
Acting for Thai Airways in defending contribution claims for damages brought before the High Court, arising from the European Commission's cartel infringement decision concerning air cargo.
Acting for a major manufacturer in defending a multi-million pound claim for damages brought before the High Court, arising from the European Commission's cartel infringement decision in relation to animal feed phosphates.
Acting for a producer in defending a contribution claim for damages brought before the High Court, arising from the European Commission's cartel infringement decision in connection with copper fittings.
Competition law and IP rights
Acting for a major participant in voluntary standards development organisations, and advising upon EU competition law issues arising in the context of two of the largest patent disputes brought before the English courts.
Acting for a manufacturer of aircraft seats on EU competition law issues, notably abuse of a dominant position, in relation to a patent litigation action before the High Court. This was combined with a complaint to the European Commission.
Acting for a biosimilar company in relation to alleged patent-related breaches of competition law by a major pharmaceutical company, including making a complaint to the European Commission.
Advising a manufacturer of medical devices upon the acquisition of a competitor, including securing merger clearance in the UK.
Advising the Universities Superannuation Scheme upon merger control issues in relation to its £400 million investment in BP's UK freehold property estate.
Advising a leading pharmaceutical business upon the acquisition of a competitor, including securing merger clearances in the UK and in Germany.
Advising Origin Enterprises plc on numerous acquisitions of competitors active in the agrochemical sector, including securing several merger clearances in the UK.
UK subsidy control
Advising various public bodies, as well as private entities, upon the application of the UK subsidy control regime to a range of planned projects and schemes.