George Peretz QC

George Peretz QC

Call: 1990 | 2018 (Ireland) | Silk: 2015

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Education

BA (Oxon)

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Introduction

George’s practice covers a wide range of public law, regulatory and tax issues, with particular strengths in competition and State aid, pharmaceuticals, VAT and customs/trade remedies, and agriculture. George has recently won a number of major cases in the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, European Court of Justice and General Court and regularly leads in the senior English courts as well as in specialist tribunals such as the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Upper Tribunal, and the Tax and General Regulatory Chambers of the First-tier Tribunal. Until he took silk in 2015, George had for many years been a member of the Attorney General’s Panels, including the A panel from 2009, in which capacity he advised and represented the UK Government on a wide range of major EU and public law cases, including many cases in the European Court of Justice and higher English courts.

Directories say that he is “both ‘very efficient’ and ‘very approachable,’ and ‘explains cases to the client extremely well.’”; “eloquent and clear on his feet” and is “a great thinker when it comes to EU and competition law, who is well known for his expertise” and whose “thoroughness, common sense and good client manner always impress.

Recent and current cases in which George has been acting include: successfully defending HMRC against a State aid claim related to the bankers’ bonus tax (Credit Suisse); acting for the European Commission in the Lundbeck and Servier “pay for delay” pharmaceutical cases in the European Court of Justice and General Court; acting for the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products and Regulatory Agency in a number of High Court and Court of Appeal cases on marketing authorisations, including the Avastin litigation now in the Court of Appeal as well as an important ECJ case on the interpretation of the Medicines Directive (here); acting for an importer challenging the imposition of anti-dumping duty and countervailing measures on the ground that the EU regulation fixing the origin of the product is invalid; acting for HMRC in the Supreme Court on what will be a leading case on gaming duty; acting for a number of companies and trade associations in the course of CMA investigations; acting for the campaigning organisation Avaaz on the Fox/Sky merger and in particular representing it in a judicial review of OFCOM’s decision on fitness of Fox News as a potential owner of Sky; defending DEFRA in a substantial Francovich claim arising out of the common agricultural policy; acting for a former bankrupt in a claim that EU free movement rules require his Irish pension fund to be afforded the same protection as that accorded to funds registered in the UK; acting for the legal campaigner Jolyon Maugham in a challenge to the legality of the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement on the basis that it contravenes a statutory provision prohibiting the Government from entering into arrangements under which Northern Ireland becomes a separate customs territory from Great Britain; and successfully acting in the Court of Appeal for those suffering narcolepsy caused by flu vaccine in a test case concerning their ability of to claim payments under the Vaccine Damages Act (here).

George is Joint Chair of the Joint Working Party of UK Bars and Law Societies on Competition Law and Joint Convenor of the UK State Aid Law Association. He was also from 2017-2019 General Rapporteur of the Ligue Internationale du Droit de la Concurrence.

George has written widely on Brexit-related legal issues, ranging from articles in the European State Aid Law Quarterly to pieces in the Guardian and Prospect magazine and contributing to BBC Radio 4 documentaries. He is a founder member of the UK Trade Forum. George has given oral and written evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee on State aid post-Brexit, to the House of Commons International Trade Select Committee on trade remedies after Brexit, to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee on State aid issues in relation to the NI heating incentive scheme, and to the House of Commons Brexit Select Committee on level playing field commitments. He advised a number of MPs on issues relating to the “Common Market 2.0” proposal for a “soft” Brexit. He also comments on Brexit developments and other legal matters on Twitter (@GeorgePeretzQC).

George was called to the Irish Bar in 2018 and is a member of the Law Library of Ireland. In that capacity, he is not only able to represent clients in the Irish Courts but also will be able to continue representing clients in the EU Courts, and to give advice covered by EU legal professional privilege, whatever the outcome of the Brexit process.

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    Date: 4 Mar, 2020
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  • Competition and state aid

    George has extensive experience of UK and EC competition law over the past three decades, acting both for private parties and for regulators. George regularly appears before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, the European Court of Justice and General Court and before the Competition and Markets Authority, as well as the High Court and Court of Appeal.

    George has a particular strength in the area of State aid. In the past year, he has represented claimants, defendants and interested parties in a number of State aid claims in the UK courts, including successfully acting for HMRC in their defence of a State aid claim by Credit Suisse arising out of the bankers’ bonus tax (Credit Suisse case news). He has over the years advised Government, local authorities, and private parties on major State aid issues including the UK’s notification of the Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme, the successful notification of the Flood Re scheme to secure affordable flood insurance for those in homes at flood risk, and a number of tax/State aid issues. He is joint convenor of the UK State Aid Law Association and has given oral and written evidence to the House of Lords EU Committee on State aid post-Brexit, to the House of Commons Northern Ireland Select Committee on State aid issues in relation to the NI heating incentive scheme , and to the House of Commons Brexit Select Committee on level playing field commitments. He is also the UK reporter for the European State Aid Law Quarterly, to which he has contributed a number of articles.

    In competition law more generally, George has extensive experience over the last 20 years, including many leading cases, of advising and representing major companies and public bodies in:

    • CMA/Commission investigations of possible infringements of Article 101 or 102 of the TFEU or Chapter I or II of the UK Competition Act and subsequent appeals to the CAT or General Court
    • Private actions for damages and injunctions in the CAT, High Court and Court of Appeal
    • Merger and market investigations before the CMA and its predecessors (the OFT and Competition Commission), and subsequent challenges in the CAT

    Recent cases in which he has acted include: the Lundbeck and Servier “pay for delay” cases in the General Court and European Court of Justice (for the European Commission); the air-cargo cartel appeals (for the Commission); acting for the Showmen’s Guild in a CMA investigation of their rules, culminating in an agreed set of amendments; acting for Ultra Finishing Ltd in the CMA investigation of RPM in the bathroom fittings market; acting for a manufacturer in the galvanised steel cartel investigation; and advising and representing Avaaz in their challenge to the Fox/Sky proposed merger, including both the CMA investigation and a challenge to OFCOM’s decision to approve a Fox-owned Sky as a fit and proper licensee.

    “A great thinker when it comes to EU and competition law, who is well known for his expertise.” “His thoroughness, common sense and good client manner always impress.”Chambers UK, 2020

    ‘‘Eloquent and clear on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2020

    “Peretz is very knowledgeable on state aid and is a man you can talk freely and frankly with. He’s good at bouncing ideas off.”Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2019

    ‘‘Excellent analysis of issues and challenges to regulation; diligent and competent.’’ – Legal 500, 2018

    “His capacity to argue difficult legal cases with unusual clarity and persuasiveness is impressive.”Chambers UK, 2018

     

  • Pharmaceuticals

    George has acted in many of the most recent important cases on pharmaceutical licensing, including Bayer and Novartis v Darlington CCG (Avastin) in the Court of Appeal (ongoing); Orion v SoS for Health and Social Care (status of MA granted by Czech government before accession); Napp v SoS for Health (use of bridging data in the hybrid-abridged procedure); Roche Registration v SoS for Health (Court of Appeal: use of material obtained on a pharmacovigilance inspection) and Astellas (CJEU: role of authorities of concerned member states in the decentralised procedure).

    George has also been involved in several leading competition cases involving pharmaceuticals, including the Lundbeck and Servier “pay for delay” cases in the General Court and European Court of Justice (for the European Commission); and Chemistree v AbbVie (Court of Appeal: market definition in pharma cases)
    George is a consulting editor of and contributor to the European Pharmaceutical Law Review.

  • Tax and duties/ trade remedies

    George has a particular strength in VAT and in the application of State aid rules to tax issues. He has represented HMRC on many leading VAT cases in the English courts and tribunals and in the Court of Justice, a highlight being Rank v HMRC in which he acted for HMRC in the leading ECJ decision on fiscal neutrality and then led HMRC’s successful appeal in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court against decisions of the tax tribunals that would have required HMRC to refund VAT paid on gaming machines over decades. He also successfully represented HMRC in the case of R(Durham Company) v HMRC (whether local authority supplies of commercial waste disposal were supplies of a public authority). He has also represented taxpayers in the tax tribunals on a number of cases concerning education and deduction of input tax.

    George is also currently acting in the Upper Tribunal for the importer in a case concerning the imposition of EU anti-dumping duty and countervailing measures on imports of solar panels and the validity of an EU regulation concerning the deemed origin of solar panels. He was also asked to give oral evidence to the House of Commons International Trade Select Committee report on trade remedies after Brexit.

    He is also representing HMRC in the Supreme Court on what will be a leading case on gaming duty (HMRC v London Clubs Management, to be heard in February 2020).
    George has extensive experience of advising HMRC and private parties on the State aid implications of tax measures, and recently successfully defended HMRC against a State aid claim related to the bankers’ bonus tax (Credit Suisse case). For his State aid experience more generally, see the “competition” section.

    “Both “very efficient” and “very approachable,” he “explains cases to the client extremely well.”Chambers UK, 2020

    ‘‘He has a great mind and the ability to communicate complex issues to lay clients in a manner they can understand.’’Legal 500, 2020

    “Approachable and very thorough.” “Sensible and very client-friendly.”Chambers UK, 2019

    ‘‘He has a strong grasp of the issues.’’ Legal 500, 2018

    “An excellent barrister who is very focused and very clear. He puts his arguments across very well.”Chambers UK, 2018

  • EU and public law

    In addition to his specialisms in the area of State aid/competition, pharmaceuticals and agriculture (see separate sections) George has a wide EU/public law practice, dating from his period of 13 years on the Attorney General’s Panels arguing a wide range of EU and public law points in the English and EU Courts.

    Recent EU/public law highlights include acting for the campaigning organisation Avaaz on the Fox/Sky merger and in particular representing it in a judicial review of OFCOM’s decision on fitness of Fox News as a potential owner of Sky; acting for a former bankrupt in the High Court in a claim that EU free movement rules require his Irish pension fund to be afforded the same protection as that accorded to funds registered in the UK; acting for the Treasury in a Supreme Court case on the application of the Services Directive to fees charged by local authorities to license sex shops, acting for the Good Law Project in a challenge to the legality of the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement on the basis that it contravenes a statutory provision prohibiting the Government from entering into arrangements under which Northern Ireland becomes a separate customs territory from Great Britain, and successfully acting in the Court of Appeal for those suffering narcolepsy caused by flu vaccine in a test case concerning their ability of to claim payments under the Vaccine Damages Act.

    “Takes what we write and presents it in a way that is easily digestible for the judge.” “He knows state aid law very well” and is “someone I can recommend to any client.”Chambers UK, 2020

    ‘‘Eloquent and clear on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2020

    “From a litigation point of view, he’s really excellent.”Chambers UK, 2019

    ‘‘Excellent analytical skills; he sees the weaknesses and strengths of cases and where to add value.’’Legal 500, 2018

    “He has an expertise and a passion for European law and that comes out in the quality of his work.”Chambers UK, 2018

  • Agriculture

    George has many years of experience of arguing cases on the common agriculture policy in the English and EU courts. Recent highlights include acting for the UK Government in Fruition PO (the leading CJEU case on producers’ organisations) and for DEFRA in the long-running Speciality Produce litigation (producers’ organisations and Francovich damages). He has also acted for DEFRA in a number of High Court cases concerning aspects of the single payments scheme (“naked acres”) and liability for acts of an employee that breached cross-compliance rules (here).

    “Takes what we write and presents it in a way that is easily digestible for the judge.” “He knows state aid law very well” and is “someone I can recommend to any client.”Chambers UK, 2020

    ‘‘Eloquent and clear on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2020

    “From a litigation point of view, he’s really excellent.”Chambers UK, 2019

    ‘‘Excellent analytical skills; he sees the weaknesses and strengths of cases and where to add value.’’Legal 500, 2018

    “He has an expertise and a passion for European law and that comes out in the quality of his work.”Chambers UK, 2018

  • What the directories say

    Tax: Indirect Tax: “Both “very efficient” and “very approachable,” he “explains cases to the client extremely well.” – Chambers UK, 2020

    European Law: “Takes what we write and presents it in a way that is easily digestible for the judge.” “He knows state aid law very well” and is “someone I can recommend to any client.” – Chambers UK, 2020

    Competition Law: “A great thinker when it comes to EU and competition law, who is well known for his expertise.” “His thoroughness, common sense and good client manner always impress.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2020

    Leading silk in Competition: ‘‘Eloquent and clear on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2020

    Leading silk in EU Law: ‘‘Eloquent and clear on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2020

    Leading silk in Tax: Corporate and VAT: ‘‘He has a great mind and the ability to communicate complex issues to lay clients in a manner they can understand.’’Legal 500, 2020

    Competition Law: “Peretz is very knowledgeable on state aid and is a man you can talk freely and frankly with. He’s good at bouncing ideas off.”Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2019

    European Law: “From a litigation point of view, he’s really excellent.”Chambers UK, 2019

    Tax: Indirect Tax: “Approachable and very thorough.” “Sensible and very client-friendly.”Chambers UK, 2019

    Leading silk in Competition: ‘‘Excellent analysis of issues and challenges to regulation; diligent and competent.’’Legal 500, 2018

    Leading silk in EU Law: ‘‘Excellent analytical skills; he sees the weaknesses and strengths of cases and where to add value.’’Legal 500, 2018

    Leading silk in Tax: Corporate and VAT: ‘‘He has a strong grasp of the issues.’’Legal 500, 2018

    Competition Law: “His capacity to argue difficult legal cases with unusual clarity and persuasiveness is impressive.”Chambers UK, 2018

    European Law: “He has an expertise and a passion for European law and that comes out in the quality of his work.”Chambers UK, 2018

    Tax: Indirect Tax: “An excellent barrister who is very focused and very clear. He puts his arguments across very well.”Chambers UK, 2018

    Leading silk in Competition: ‘‘He has a detailed grasp of the law and the approach taken by the courts and the regulator.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Leading silk in EU Law: ‘‘A great analytical mind, who remains calm under pressure.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Leading silk in Tax: Corporate and VAT: ‘‘Particularly skilled in navigating the crossroads between UK and EU tax law.’’Legal 500, 2017

    Competition Law: “He is very attentive to detail while at the same time being able to take an overall view of the issues at stake. He manages to convey the crux of the case in a few simple words.” – Chambers UK, 2017

    Tax: Indirect Tax: “He’s exceptionally quick at getting to the heart of the issue.” Chambers UK, 2017

    Leading silk in EU and Competition:  “His advice is always clear, pragmatic and to the point.” – Legal 500, 2016

    Leading silk in Tax: VAT:  “His strength lies in the interaction of VAT with other EU law.”Legal 500, 2016

    Competition Law: “Extremely bright, very tenacious and someone who quickly grasps the commercial issues.” “He’s thorough and an effective advocate.”Chambers UK, 2016

    Tax: Indirect Tax: “He is exceptionally bright and has a great command of evidence and argument.”Chambers UK, 2016

    New Silk in EU and competition: ”He provides advice that is clever, precise and easy to follow.” Legal 500, 2015

    Competition Law: “Absolutely brilliant on paper and someone who has had great success in court recently.”Chambers UK, 2015

    “George Peretz, has ‘an excellent depth of knowledge‘.” is ranked as a leading Junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2014

    Under Competition Law: Has a wide competition practice that encompasses all the major areas. Earns particular praise for his work on cartels and investigations at both the domestic and European level. “He is very creative and impresses with his knowledge of cartel cases.”Chambers UK, 2014

    “George Peretz, who has ‘an excellent depth of knowledge‘.” is recommended as a leading Junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2013

    “George Peretz is seen as a great choice for those looking for “practical and easy-to-work-with” juniors who can offer extensive expertise in competition and EU law. He recently acted for Kerry Foods before both the Competition Commission and the OFT in an investigation into the proposed Headlands Goods and Kerry Foods merger.” Chambers UK, 2013

    George Peretz is a recommended leading junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2012

    Competition/European Law – “George Peretz is a junior who acts unled much of the time, prompting many to speculate that he cannot be far off silk. He has been appearing in the construction industry price-fixing litigation as well as Oxley Threads v European Communities, an important case on cartel fines.” – Chambers UK, 2012

    EU & Competition Law recommends George Peretz as a leading junior. Legal 500, 2011

    Recommended in Competition/European Law in Chambers UK,2011, “the “proficient and experienced” George Peretz recently led legal teams for both Renew Holdings and Robert Woodhead Holdings, in appealing the OFT’s construction industry cartel decision.”

    Under EU and competition the Legal 500, 2010 states that “all rounder George Peretz is very responsive and quickly gets to the heart of the issue.”

    “George Peretz worked at the OFT for six years and is very highly regarded for merger cases. One interviewee praised him for “his versatility and ability to break down complex arguments.” ” – Chambers UK, 2010

  • Publications

    George is one of the joint authors of the 2nd edition of Blackstone’s Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. George was a member of the team that prepared the 6th edition of Bellamy and Child on the European Community Law of Competition (chapter on enforcement and procedure), and also wrote the chapter on procedure before the OFT in Ward & Smith “Competition Litigation in the UK”. He is contributing to a number of other works dealing with the Competition Act. He is a consulting editor of the UK Competition Law Reports, and is UK reporter for the European State Aid Law Quarterly. He has written articles on competition law for the Competition Law Journal, European Competition Law Review, PLC and The Lawyer. George has given talks on a wide variety of competition law issues to training conferences (such as IBC, Hawksmere and PLC), Government lawyers, the Solicitors’ European Group, and individual companies and firms of solicitors. He has also given talks on VAT and freedom of information issues to various audiences.

  • Additional information

    Languages

    Good working knowledge of French and Spanish: he can accept instructions in, and read documents in, both languages, and has given talks on competition law in French. Basic knowledge of German.

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