Preanka Gouden

20 Nov 2023
20 Nov 2023

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There is a drive to better understand how sustainability/green law and competition law can interplay, and how an overarching merger control regime for the continent can be adopted/ implemented.

What do you do?

I am a competition law practitioner, currently practising as a Senior Associate in the Competition practice at ENSafrica. I specialise in advising clients on various aspects of competition law, including: multi- jurisdictional merger notifications, prohibited practices such as price-fixing, bid-rigging or market division, and general compliance (for example, opinions and general advice on business strategy in light of competition legislation).

My day-to-day job includes preparing local and cross-border merger notifications; reviewing and advising on various commercial agreements and corporate governance structures from a merger control, abuse of dominance and/or prohibited practice perspective; reviewing and preparing competition law compliance manuals or protocols; preparing corporate leniency and exemption applications; and crafting merger conditions. These tasks may lead to contested and uncontested litigation in respect of both mergers and/or prohibited practices.

What pulled you towards your field?

Surprisingly, it was not a field for which I had a long-standing desire to pursue. In fact, competition law was a relatively foreign concept prior to commencing my articles of clerkship. It was during this rotation that I began to really learn about, and immerse myself in, this area of law. I fell in love (yes, as cliché as that sounds!) – with the principles of competition law and how important this area of law was and will continue to be in South Africa for generations to come. In a country still beset with inequality, competition law is a key mechanism to promote the efficiency, adaptability, and development of the economy, and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans.

How have your degrees helped you in your career?

My LLB gave me a holistic understanding of the legal profession, types of law and the study of law. Understanding the study of law insofar as having basic knowledge of legal principles and prescripts was key. My LLB journey also afforded me the opportunity to learn from industry leaders and apply my learnings (through, for example, mooting, tutoring and serving in the law clinic).

Practising in the niche field of competition law, I considered it apt to pursue and complete a course in that particular field, as it was not an elective I had taken during my LLB. While practical experience in the practice area is invaluable, the course again aided in further cementing the legal concepts and technicalities plaguing this area of law.

What advice would you give to students?

Take an elective course! If it is a field you are certain you would like to pursue, then having the foundational knowledge would be valuable. If you aren’t yet sure of the exact path that your legal career will take, that is completely okay. There is value in not having everything mapped out – flexibility and the ability to adapt are important. You will carve your own path in due course and it may not be the ‘traditional’ route – there is nothing wrong with that. The wealth of knowledge and experience you will garner along whatever route you travel will contribute to your uniqueness – a very important trait.

Take your time. The corporate working world is challenging – and yes, rewarding – but enjoy university (the good, bad, and everything in between).

How do you see your industry evolving in the near future?

Competition law is dynamic and has seen much change over the past few years. Because it is intrinsically linked to market economics and changes, and seeks to achieve economic equality, it has and will continue to evolve. For example, our competition authorities are honing in on the regulation of digital markets, as well as the promotion, protection and growth of SMMEs and firms owned or controlled by historically disadvantaged persons.

Internationally, there is a drive to better understand how sustainability/green law and competition law can interplay, and how an overarching merger control regime for the continent can be adopted/ implemented. These type(s) of priority projects will contribute to the evolution of the industry/practice area for years to come.