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Administrative and public law

Building and navigating the world’s regulatory regimes.

Freshfields' multi-disciplinary administrative and public law team advises clients on high-profile, complex and often business-critical public law litigation and regulatory processes across a range of business sectors.

We help multinational companies contribute to and navigate both established and emerging regulatory regimes, notably in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Businesses in sectors including fintech, energy and consumer products rely on Freshfields for everything from complex licence applications, to defending investigations and judicial reviews. We advise on constitutional, legislative and regulatory change, engagement with legislators and challenges to disproportionate rules.

We also advise governments and public authorities in areas such as legislative processes, and we train newly established bodies in international best practice. For example, we have worked with China’s antitrust authorities and courts, Hong Kong’s Competition Commission and India’s antitrust authority.

Our public law practice advises clients on human rights issues around the world, including the right to property and fair trial rights, in a range of regulatory contexts. We also advise clients on the full suite of issues arising out of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights, and related developments. 

Leveraging our substantial expertise in the nuclear sector, we advise clients on their supervision (pursuant to international treaties) by governments, and the inter-relation between public law and nuclear regulation. 

We are also known for providing public law and public procurement advice to governments and major corporations.

Client successes

This lead to a preliminary reference to the European Court of Justice regarding the legality of the EU’s emissions trading scheme. The European Commission subsequently suspended the application of the scheme to non-EU airlines.

This was part of a co-ordinated industry-wide challenge to EU legislation imposing a flawed calculation formula leading to excess payments of more than €100m. It involved successfully securing preliminary references from the UK and German courts to the European Court of Justice, which ultimately annulled the relevant EU directive as unlawful.

Defeating critical portions of the US government’s motion to dismiss in Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project litigation against Secretary of State John Kerry, the Department of State, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Charles Johnson, and the Department of Homeland Security for failure to make reasonable efforts to protect Iraqi refugees or remove them from Iraq and Afghanistan, and to finally adjudicate special immigrant visa applications within a reasonable time.

We also advised RWE in proceedings before the Federal Constitutional Court concerning the nuclear exit.