Competition body allots record fines

French competition lawyers are reeling after their clients were hit twice last week by the competition watchdog for record amounts.

The nation’s three dominant mobile telephone operators – Bouygues Telecom, Orange France and SFR – were fined a record €534m (£307.6m) for collusion.

French firm Bredin Prat represented Orange France, Clifford Chance acted for SFR and Vogel & Vogel is understood to have advised Bouygues.

The Competition Council found the three mobile operators had struck a deal not to compete too aggressively for market share between 2000 and 2002.

The council’s findings came just days after the six most famous hotels in Paris – The Bristol, The Crillon, The George V, The Meurice, The Plaza Athenee and The Ritz – were reprimanded for the same offence.

French firms took the brunt of the blow, with CMS Bureau Francis Lefebvre representing The Meurice, Darrois Villey Maillot Brochier representing The Ritz, Ginestié Magellan Paley-Vincent advising The Plaza Athenee, Hogan & Hartson acting for The Bristol, Salans advising the George V and Savin Martinet Associés acting for The Crillon.

A competition partner close to the case said an appeal was likely.

“It was a strange decision,” said the source. “The only information exchanged was about capacity, and it wasn’t anticompetitive. It’s too early to say, but I’d expect an appeal.”