Administrative and public law

A&O Shearman’s public law practice advises on the regulatory, transactional and litigation issues that arise when dealing with public entities across the globe.

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Understanding how dealing with public law entities differs from private entities and the impact of new or changing regulation has always been an important aspect of business life. 

It is even more critical with governments cutting costs, privatizing and selling assets, turning to or away from public-private partnerships, as well as increasing public sector spending in some areas.

Advice across all aspects of public law

Our market-leading team advises across all aspects of public law, including administrative contracts; freedom of information; government-owned assets; human rights; and permits and authorizations.

We also have extensive experience of public and mixed entities/structures; public and administrative law litigation; public-private partnerships; and regulatory change.

Our clients include public authorities, regulatory bodies, utilities, sponsors, financial institutions, and multinational corporates that operate across industries. 

We assist many public authorities and regulatory bodies on the implementation of their powers, as well as with drafting and interpreting legislation. 

As a result, we understand the complexities and challenges of this area of law and offer clients in the public sphere advice that considers the perspective and commercial objectives of private sector organizations.

We work together with our finance, corporate and M&A, litigation and real estate departments, approaching issues in a holistic way and providing clients with strategies that take into account the wider commercial, economic and legal context.

Top-tier administrative and public law litigation team

A&O Shearman has a top tier administrative and public law litigation practice, with a wealth of experience across a wide range of jurisdictions across the firm’s network.

We act in cases involving the highest commercial and political stakes, where deep understanding of policy, procedure and technically difficult areas of substantive law is crucial to success. 

Our lawyers act both for commercial operators bringing public law challenges, and for public sector bodies seeking to make robust decisions and subsequently defend them successfully. This dual perspective benefits all our clients. 

A&O Shearman understands the different procedures, approaches and strategies required to deal successfully with public law issues. 

We have the experience and capacity to handle large-scale disputes and have had considerable success in administrative and civil courts and tribunals across the globe, including in the Court of Justice of the European Union. 

Many of our cases are multinational and our lawyers often represent foreign companies in proceedings related to the decisions of national bodies.

Representative matters 

  • Entain group, one of the world's largest sports betting and gaming groups operating in the online and retail sector, on the impact of, the challenges to, and compliance with new Belgian rules restricting advertising and publicity for licensed games of chance operators. We also assist them in relation to a number of non-compliance procedures initiated by the Belgian Gaming Commission, on account of alleged non-compliance with certain consumer protection rules such as player deposit limits and prohibitions to offer bonuses.
  • A listed telecom player on the recent regulatory move across the EU to restrict or even ban high-risk vendors from 5G networks, and the consequences for the roll-out of a 5G network in Belgium. Our acting in this matter is testament to our integrated cybersecurity and trade regulation/international sanctions practice, covering regulatory and liability aspects from a civil, public and national security angle.
  • A Dutch manufacturer and supplier of high voltage electrical equipment, on the public procurement legislation in Belgium, including key differences between the Belgian and Dutch rules on public procurement. This included in-depth advice regarding practical application of the Belgian rules on the general terms and conditions for public procurement contracts.
  • NGE, TIIC, Quaero Capital and Ascendi on the public law aspects on their bid for the financing, construction and operation of A69 motorway between Toulouse and Castres.
  • A global energy company in the context of a litigation under French duty of vigilance legislation brought against it before the Paris Courts by a coalition of 22 NGOs and local authorities.
  • British Gas in relation to a high-profile and novel English judicial review/subsidy control claim in relation to a multi-billion pound government subsidy granted in connection with Octopus Energy’s acquisition of Bulb (in administration). 
  • 20 producers in the renewable sector in a challenge before the French administrative supreme court against a French government order, setting remuneration caps for some renewable energy producers benefiting from subsidized remuneration contracts.
  • An American tech company in a potential litigation against a decision of a governmental agency related to the certification of the company as a trusted cloud computing service provider.

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