Quinn Emanuel secures RPC's competition head in London

US litigation giant makes first senior UK competition lateral since high-profile team defection to Willkie Farr
Portrait of Lambros Kilaniotis

Lambros Kilaniotis

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has hired RPC’s head of competition, Lambros Kilaniotis, in London — its first UK competition partner hire since the high-profile defection of a three-partner team last October to Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Kilaniotis, who leaves RPC after nine years, will co-lead Quinn's competition practice alongside Kate Vernon, dovetailing his previously largely contentious competition practice with the firm’s classical competition law strengths.

His experience spans challenges to regulators, including the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), at both first instance and appellate levels. Notable cases include successfully challenging the CMA’s decision allowing Eurotunnel’s merger with Sea France.

Other significant work includes his representation of long-term RPC client Mike Ashley’s St. James Holdings against the Premier League over 2021’s contested sale of Newcastle United to the Saudi-backed Public Investment Fund.

However, it is Kilaniotis’ experience of consumer class actions in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) that Quinn will value most highly. The move helps make up for the loss of former competition co-lead Boris Bronfentrinker and two other partners to Willkie Farr in October 2021. 

While not a like-for-like hire, Kilaniotis has represented tech giant Google in defence of opt-out consumer class action proceedings brought in the CAT over its Play Store. And he has claimant experience in credit card litigation, including on interchange fees. Bronfentrinker has been noted for such work thanks to his long-running involvement in the Mastercard litigation

Interchange litigation is attractive to litigation-led firms like Quinn as it lends itself to the assembly of portfolios of corporate claimants in dispute with credit card companies, a strategy successfully adopted by Stephenson Harwood’s Genevieve Quierin since her move from Mishcon de Reya in November 2020.

Quinn Emanuel’s founder, John Quinn, praised Kilaniotis’ “stand-out reputation... both as a tactician and talented solicitor-advocate”. 

Richard East, Quinn’s London senior partner, praised Kilaniotis’ “impressive track record for both winning complex competition disputes and achieving very favourable out of court settlements,” 

East commended Kilaniotis’ advocacy skills, saying “he has the legal and technical skills our clients demand”, a theme echoed by Vernon, who arrived from DLA Piper in 2016. 

Vernon told GLP the firm was “building a compelling competition litigation brand here in London, and Lambros will be integral to that process”. 

She added: “We have a significant caseload of work and a fantastic business that is continually growing, so another partner — especially one of Lambros’ experience and seniority — is a no-brainer to allow us to continue our upwards trajectory”.

Quinn currently represents UK consumers in a multi-billion-pound collective action against Meta, lodged on behalf of more than 40 million consumers over the tech giant’s dominant market position in the UK. 

Kilaniotis – a UK-Cypriot lawyer with stints at PwC Legal and Herbert Smith Freehills – is Quinn’s first external antitrust hire since Bronfentrinker’s departure. The team now numbers eight fully dedicated lawyers, including three partners. 

Geraldine Elliott, head of RPC's commercial litigation group, said: "While we are, of course, sad to see Lambros go, his departure comes at a time when our international commercial group is growing rapidly, having added five new Partners in 2022 alone, and further arrivals to be announced in the coming weeks."

Recent partner arrivals include that of former Stephenson Harwood partner Shai Wade, who signed up with RPC in June to head up the London arbitration team.

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