Ali Nikpay, Senior Director at the UK’s Office of Fair Trading, to Join Gibson Dunn’s Competition Practice

April 3, 2013

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is pleased to announce that Ali Nikpay will join the firm as a partner in the worldwide antitrust and competition law practice group.  Nikpay will join the firm on April 15 after nine years as Senior Director at the Office of Fair Trading, the UK’s competition authority.  At the OFT, he served in a number of leadership posts, including most recently as head of its Cartels and Criminal Enforcement division and as one of the OFT’s main decision makers in merger cases.  He was also a member of the OFT’s Executive Committee.
Nikpay will be based in Gibson Dunn’s London office, where he will lead the competition practice, but is expected to spend a significant proportion of his time working with colleagues in Brussels and the United States.  He will advise clients on EU and UK cartels, mergers, monopolization cases and other regulatory investigations.

“We are delighted to have Ali join the firm,” said Ken Doran, Chairman and Managing Partner of Gibson Dunn.  “Ali has a fabulous reputation in the UK and across Europe in the antitrust/competition space.  He will be a great addition to the firm’s premiere competition practice and will enable us to better serve our clients in Europe and around the globe.”

“Ali brings a wealth of cartel and mergers investigation experience, which will add depth to our competition capabilities and further enhance our ability to serve clients in this important practice area,” said Tom Budd, Partner in Charge of the London office. 

Philip Rocher, the senior partner in the Dispute Resolution Group in London, said, “Ali has been a key player in designing the changes to private litigation of competition law in the UK.  His arrival signals the firm’s intention to further develop this area of our practice.  Ali will work closely with the London Disputes team and the firm’s US antitrust litigation group to build and strengthen the firm’s UK and European capabilities in this growing area of law.”

Gary Spratling, Co-Chair of the firm’s worldwide antitrust and competition practice, said, “Gibson Dunn’s cartel practice is second to none and is a natural home for someone of Ali’s deep experience and stature in this area.  Ali and the OFT have been at the leading edge of the global movement among enforcers to implement new tools and more effective coordination to promote vigorous cartel enforcement.  Our clients will greatly benefit from his unique skill set.”

Nikpay will be accompanied by his colleague, Deirdre Taylor, Assistant Director in the OFT’s Cartel and Criminal Enforcement division. Taylor, who will join the firm’s London office as of counsel, has 15 years of experience as a competition lawyer, including five years with the OFT.

Nikpay said, “The OFT is a wonderful place, and I will sorely miss my friends and colleagues, some of whom I have worked with for almost a decade.  But I am really excited about returning to private practice at Gibson Dunn.  I have known a number of lawyers in the firm for many years and watched them deliver, again and again, outstanding outcomes for clients in the most complicated of matters.  The firm was the obvious choice for me: it combines one of the best competition, litigation and regulatory practices in the world with values that I share – collegiality, teamwork and a passion for delivering the highest quality work.  Deirdre and I are very much looking forward to working with colleagues in Brussels and London to help build the pre-eminent competition practice in Europe.”

“Ali and Deirdre are key additions to our London and Brussels capabilities and provide an even greater bridge between our EU and UK competition practices,” said Peter Alexiadis, Partner in Charge of the Brussels office.  “Ali’s decision to join us is a clear recognition of the strength and ambition of our practice.  My partners and I have known, liked and admired Ali for many years.  He is a natural fit for us at so many levels.  Deirdre’s abilities are also well known to us, both from her time at the OFT and her long experience in practice in Brussels.  She will also be a wonderful addition to our practice.”

About Ali Nikpay

Nikpay has more than 20 years of competition, antitrust and litigation experience in both the private and public sectors.  He joins Gibson Dunn from the UK’s competition authority, the Office of Fair Trading, where he has worked since 2004.  He served as the OFT’s Senior Director for Cartels and Criminal Enforcement from 2009 to 2013, supervising a team of 50 investigators and lawyers.  He was also one of the main decision makers on merger cases.  From 2006 to 2009, he served as the OFT’s Senior Director responsible for Policy, Legal Advice and International matters.  From 2004 to 2006, he served as Senior Director for Competition Case Scrutiny and Policy.

In these leadership roles, he developed and implemented major changes to the UK’s competition enforcement regime, reshaping in particular its cartels and criminal practices and delivering decisions in some of the most significant merger cases in recent years, including  LSE/LCH.Clearnet, BATS/Chi-X, and Rank/Gala.  He pioneered the use of early resolution mechanisms in civil enforcement cases in Europe, delivering two of the three highest uncontested fines ever imposed in the UK.
Nikpay also led the OFT’s ground-breaking work on the reform of the UK’s private competition litigation system and on important changes to the criminal cartel legislation, currently before Parliament.  During his time in charge of Policy, the National Audit Office found that the OFT was “leading the intellectual debate on substantive issues in competition analysis.”

Prior to his tenure at the OFT, Nikpay was in private practice where he worked on some of the most significant merger matters in Europe, including GE/Honeywell, GE/Instrumentarium (the EC’s first “non-dominance” unilateral effects merger case) and the OFT’s Chapter II investigation into BSkyB.  Before that he spent almost five years at the Directorate General for Competition at the European Commission in Brussels, where he was lead case-handler on a number of the most important competition and merger cases, including the investigation in Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile/Formula 1 and the merger clearance of a joint venture between Kirch/BSkyB, which was upheld in its entirety on appeal to the European General Court.  He was also significantly involved in important policy reform in the areas of vertical agreements and non-cartel horizontal agreements.

Nikpay is co-editor of “Faull & Nikpay: The EC Law of Competition,” one of the leading practitioner texts in this field.  He is also co-author of the chapter on competition litigation in another leading practitioner text and serves on the editorial boards of the European Competition Law Journal, World Competition, and Competition Law International, the International Bar Association’s antitrust journal.  Prior to joining the OFT, he was on the CBI Competition Panel and on several occasions appeared before the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union.

He is a Visiting Lecturer at University of Oxford and was a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). He received a master’s degree in economics from the LSE in 1993, studying law at the College of Law and the Inns of Court School of Law.

About Deirdre Taylor

Taylor has served in the Office of Fair Trading since 2008, most recently as Assistant Director of the Cartels and Criminal Enforcement Group since 2010.  In this role, she was responsible for scoping and planning civil cartel investigations, as well as overseeing evidence reviews and key documents, including statement of objections and final decisions.  During her tenure at the OFT, she served as Senior Adviser to the Competition Policy Team from 2008 to 2010.

Prior, Taylor practiced competition law with WilmerHale from 1999 to 2008 in the Brussels and London offices and served in the European Commission as Stagiaire with the Information Technology and Consumer Electronics Unit of DG Competition from 1998 to 1999.  She received her BCL from University College Cork in 1995, her LLM from University College Dublin in 1996 and her Barrister-at-Law from the Honorable Society of Kings Inns in 1998.