Dr Marcel Meinhardt

Marcel Meinhardt

Lawyer biography

Expertise

Dr. Marcel Meinhardt is a leading expert in competition law and is renowned for his broad, first-rate practice. He specialises in all areas of Swiss and European merger control work and competition law, particularly in the postal services, insurance, banking, motor-car, energy, media, retail, construction, pharma and ticketing sectors. Marcel Meinhardt also advises on regulatory issues in connection with the electricity and gas industry. He has been responsible for a large number of merger notifications to the Swiss Competition Commission and co-ordinated multi-jurisdictional filings. Marcel Meinhardt advises in contentious and non-contentious matters and has acted in high profile cases on alleged abuses of dominant positions and vertical restraints. He heads the competition and regulated practice group of Lenz & Staehelin.

Practice Areas

Competition, General Contract and Corporate, Energy and Regulated Markets, Litigation, Public Procurement, Telecoms & Media, Internal Investigations

Languages

German, English, French

Education and Professional Experience

  • 1990 University of St.Gallen (lic. iur.)
  • 1992 Admission to Zurich Bar
  • 1994 New York University School of Law (LL.M.)
  • 1995 College of Europe (LL.M.)
  • 1996 Joined Lenz & Staehelin
  • 1996 University of Zurich (Dr. iur.)
  • 2002 Partner at Lenz & Staehelin

Memberships

Swiss Association for Competition Law (ASAS), Zurich Bar
Association (ZAV), Swiss Bar Association (SAV), Studienvereinigung Kartellrecht eV., International Bar Association (IBA), American Bar Association (ABA)

Other Activities

  • Board member and secretary of the Swiss Association for Competition Law (Swiss member of the International League of Competition Law).
  • Regular speaker at Swiss and international competition law conferences.

Key clients (Selection)

  • Colgate Palmolive
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Expedia
  • Ford
  • Implenia
  • Mastercard
  • AZM / NZZ
  • Pfizer
  • Swiss Post
  • Swisscom / CT Cinetrade AG
  • Ticketcorner
  • Unilever

Updates

Competition & Antitrust

Secretariat of ComCo advises on obligation to notify concentration
Switzerland | 28 May 2020

Under Swiss law, a proposed concentration triggers a mandatory pre-merger notification if one of the undertakings concerned has been held to be dominant, irrespective of the statutory turnover thresholds. It was previously unclear whether this criterion had to be met at the time of signing or at the time of closing. The Secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission has now clarified this question.

COVID-19 crisis: guidelines for dealing with antitrust risk
Switzerland | 23 April 2020

Companies in a wide range of industries are facing major challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis. Such challenges include strongly increased or decreased demand, possible supply chain bottlenecks and even supply shortages. Although the situation is exceptional, antitrust rules still apply. The only exceptions are if the government and authorities order measures to combat the COVID-19 crisis that restrict competition.

Federal Supreme Court examines margin squeeze under Swiss competition law
Switzerland | 20 February 2020

The Federal Supreme Court recently confirmed that Swisscom had abused its dominant position by charging abusive prices for wholesale broadband services between 2001 and 2007. Swisscom was found to have left its competitors no possibility to gain a sufficient profit margin between the wholesale prices charged by Swisscom and their retail prices (so-called 'margin squeeze'). This was the court's first judgment where it examined a margin squeeze under Swiss competition law.

Low fine for vertical price fixing against Swiss ski manufacturer after leniency application
Switzerland | 14 November 2019

The Competition Commission (ComCo) recently fined a Swiss manufacturer of skis and other sporting goods Sfr140,000 for vertical price fixing with its dealers. The fine was rather low, as the manufacturer had filed a leniency application and entered into an amicable settlement with ComCo. This settlement decision underscores ComCo's strict approach vis-à-vis hardcore vertical agreements and sheds light on how ComCo views restrictions of selective (online) distribution in Switzerland.

ComCo reduces antitrust fines due to damages compensation paid to cartel victims
Switzerland | 26 September 2019

The Competition Commission (ComCo) recently closed its investigations into bid rigging in the construction industry and issued fines of Sfr11 million, an amount which would have been much higher had the commission not deducted the damages compensation paid by the cartelists to the victims from its claims. By introducing the possibility of compensating cartel victims for damages in antitrust proceedings, ComCo has chosen to advocate civil antitrust law to the detriment of its leniency programme.

Secretariat of Competition Commission advises on merger filing obligation based on dominant market position
Switzerland | 30 May 2019

Under the Cartel Act, a merger filing is generally required when the relevant turnover thresholds pursuant to Article 9(1) of the act are met. However, in addition to these thresholds, the act provides for a filing obligation based on a dominant market position. As a result of legal uncertainty, a leading media group recently asked the Secretariat of the Competition Commission whether its intended acquisition of a small media agency would trigger a merger filing obligation even if the turnover thresholds were clearly not met.

Federal Administrative Court rules on right to silence in competition investigations
Switzerland | 14 March 2019

In a recent bid-rigging investigation, the Federal Administrative Court held that assessing the procedural role of a witness or company representative must be based on the circumstances at the time of the interrogation. The court found that interrogation of a witness is permissible only if it concerns purely factual information that could have no direct incriminating effect on the complainant with regard to a possible violation of competition law.

Secretariat of Swiss Competition Commission advises on changes in shareholder structure of joint venture
Switzerland | 14 February 2019

The Secretariat of the Swiss Competition Commission recently issued advice in respect of Article 23(2) of the Cartel Act to two shareholders in a jointly controlled joint venture. The advice clarifies that joint control is given when the parent companies must agree on all important matters relating to the joint venture. Where several parent companies have unequal stakes in a company, minority shareholders must have a right to veto decisions that are essential to the strategic commercial behaviour of the joint venture.

Energy & Natural Resources

ComCo opens up gas market in central Switzerland
Switzerland | 06 July 2020

The Swiss Competition Commission (ComCo) recently reviewed whether Energie Wasser Luzern Holding AG and Erdgas Zentralschweiz AG had a dominant position in the natural gas market and whether their refusal to grant grid access qualified as an unlawful refusal to deal. The undertakings ultimately concluded a consensual settlement with ComCo which – combined with the future Gas Supply Act – will likely improve competition in the gas supply market.

Strengthening of domestic renewable energies and liberalisation of electricity market
Switzerland | 18 May 2020

A consultation on the revised Electricity Supply Act has shown that a majority of people support a full market opening, but that more incentives for investment in domestic renewable energies and planning security are desired. The amendments envisaged by the Federal Council will enable Switzerland to increase electricity production from renewable energies, better integrate such electricity into the electricity market and strengthen its supply security.

New regulations on trading with natural resources
Switzerland | 24 February 2020

This article provides a non-exhaustive analysis of the legal situation regarding trading with natural resources in Switzerland, with a primary focus on new regulations and reference to foreign financial institutions. At the beginning of 2020, a new regulation came into force which also affected trading with natural resources. In general, trading in physical commodities does not require a licence, whereas trading in securities or derivatives on a commercial basis is subject to licensing requirements.

Government confirms proposal to liberalise electricity market
Switzerland | 28 October 2019

The government recently confirmed its proposal to fully liberalise the Swiss electricity market. This liberalisation will be accompanied by measures which strengthen domestic renewable energies and improve supply security. It is now up to the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications to submit a discussion paper to the government setting out the key parameters for such liberalisation and additional adjustments to be made to the Electricity Supply Act.

Linked ETSs to benefit energy-intensive industries
Switzerland | 09 September 2019

The CO2 Agreement between Switzerland and the European Union aims to link the Swiss and EU emissions trading systems (ETSs) to allow energy-intensive industries which currently participate in only the Swiss ETS to access the more dynamic EU emissions market. As under the current regime, the CO2 tax on fuels will be reimbursed to plant operators participating in the Swiss ETS at their request; however, a new exception applies to so-called 'fossil-fuel thermal power plants'.

Litigation

Termination of service contract
Switzerland | 31 March 2015

In a recent case, Land Rover terminated a service contract with an authorised garage. The garage filed for preliminary relief with the Zurich Commercial Court, requesting that the court oblige Land Rover to continue the service contract after termination. The court rejected the request, concluding that Land Rover did not have a dominant position at the after-sale level.

Fine imposed on taxi company for refusing to provide information upheld but reduced
Switzerland | 09 August 2011

In a recent decision the Federal Administrative Court partly rejected an appeal from a taxi company. The taxi service company was fined Sfr10,000 by the Competition Commission in 2008 for not having provided information requested by the authorities. The appeal court held that the penalty was legally justified in principle, but reduced the amount to Sfr5,000.