Johan Van Acker specialises in EU and national competition law. His practice covers a wide range of sectors including aviation, consumer products, basic industries, steel, chemicals, electronics, information technology and real estate.

Johan is particularly experienced in merger control, and he has successfully assisted clients in numerous merger cases before the European Commission and national competition authorities. For instance, Johan has been involved in several high profile EU merger control cases, including Fincantieri/Chantiers de l’Atlantique, Energizer/Spectrum Brands, Essilor/Luxottica, Halliburton/Baker Hughes, BHP Billiton/Rio Tinto, Motorola/Vertex Standard, Boeing/Lockheed Martin, Canon/IRIS and Novartis/Chiron, to name but a few. Johan also represented Skype in the unconditional EU approval of its acquisition by Microsoft, which received the 2011 Global Competition Review Matter of the Year award for Europe. 

He also regularly advises clients on other aspects of competition law, including cartels, horizontal and vertical agreements, abuse of dominance and state aid. For instance, Johan was part of the Van Bael & Bellis team that handled the successful opposition to the 2010 joint production agreement between BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, which received the Global Competition Review Matter of the Year award in 2010. Johan also represented Japan Airlines in the cartel damages litigation in Europe following the European Commission’s Airfreight cartel decision. The Airfreight litigation was given the Matter of the Year award by Global Competition Review in 2016 and also won the American Lawyer’s International Litigation award in 2016.

Johan was singled out by Global Competition Review (GCR) in its 2015 “40 under 40” feature as one of the 40 best competition lawyers worldwide under the age of 40, and one of the six best in the highly-competitive Brussels market. GCR also nominated Johan for an award in 2019 as one of the eight best competition lawyers worldwide under 40. Johan was also listed as one of the six “most highly regarded partners” in Europe in Who’s Who Legal’s “Future Leaders in Competition Law”, a peer review listing the best competition lawyers worldwide under the age of 45. Legal 500 has singled Johan out as a “Next Generation” leading EU competition lawyer in Europe. Chambers Global notes that clients describe Johan as "very bright and capable of solving difficult problems and analyses" and Who’s Who Legal cites client feedback that Johan is a “top competition expert” who “does not just provide clients with the legal analysis but will ‘think with them’ resulting in practical, relevant advice and guidance”.

He regularly lectures and writes on competition law matters.


English, Dutch, French


  • Global Competition Review’s 40 under 40 (2015) – the world’s top antitrust lawyers under the age of 40
  • Global Competition Review Awards (2019) – nominated as one of the eight best competition lawyers worldwide under the age of 40
  • Who’s Who Legal – Competition (Future Leaders) – listed as one of the six “most highly regarded” partners in Europe
  • Chambers Global – Competition/European Law
  • Chambers Europe – Competition/European Law
  • Legal 500 – EU Competition (‘Next Generation’ leading lawyer)
  • Expert Guides – Competition/Antitrust (Rising Star)
  • IFLR1000 – EU Competition (Leading Lawyer)
  • Best Lawyers – Competition/Antitrust


  • King’s College, London, LL.M in European Law, with merit, 2003
  • University of Antwerp and Nice, Master of Laws, magna cum laude, 2002 


Contributor to Van Bael & Bellis, Competition Law of the European Community, the standard work of reference in the field of EU competition law.

Co-author of the EU chapter of The European Lawyers' Reference Guide on Merger Control, now in its 3rd edition.

“The current state of the EU merger control system: ten areas where improvement could be made” (Fordham International Anti-trust Law & Policy conference).

The Belgian merger control chapter of Wet en Duiding, Mededingingsrecht, a commentary (in Dutch) on Belgian and EU competition law legislation.

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Notable assignments

  • The Legal 500

    Representing Halliburton in the EU merger control filing and review of its planned $34.6 billion acquisition of Baker Hughes, one of the largest and most complex transactions ever to be subject to an EU merger control proceeding.

  • The Legal 500

    Representing Skype in the EU merger control review of Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype. The transaction was unconditionally approved by the European Commission after a first phase review, which was upheld on appeal. It received the 2011 Global Competition Review Matter of the Year award for Europe.

Publications and insights

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    • 14/04/2023
    • News

    Stellar 2023 performance by VBB in Legal 500 EMEA Rankings with 26 lawyers & 11 practices recognized

    Legal 500 EMEA has announced the results of its 2023 research of the legal market, with VBB once again securing impressive rankings.

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    • 11/02/2019
    • News

    Johan Van Acker nominated by GCR for competition lawyer of the year under 40

    Van Bael & Bellis partner Johan Van Acker has been nominated for a Global Competition Review (GCR) Award in the category of “Competition Lawyer of the Year – Under 40”. Johan Van Acker is one of eight nominees worldwide singled out by GCR as a “competition lawyer under the age of 40 whose superior technical skill, practical judgement and excellence in client service in 2018 demonstrate that he or she is among the very best in the field”. Voting for the GCR awards is now open (for GCR subscribers) until midnight, 22 February 2019 at the following link.

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    • 11/02/2019
    • News

    Porter Elliott and Johan Van Acker author chapter on “Merger control in the EU”

    Thomson Reuters have published their Practical Law guide on global merger control law, which features a chapter on “Merger control in the EU” authored by Van Bael & Bellis partners Porter Elliott and Johan Van Acker. This chapter answers the critical questions that typically arise in an EU merger control review with respect to the regulatory framework, jurisdictional thresholds, procedures and timetables, substantive test and remedies, amongst others. The chapter can be accessed here. Porter Elliott and Johan Van Acker are also the authors of the EU chapter of Merger Control: International Series, now in its third edition, for which Jean-François Bellis and Porter Elliott serve as General Editors. Jean-François Bellis and Porter Elliott are also the Contributing Editors of the 2019 Chambers Global Practice Guide for merger control.

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