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Freeths - Law firm

State Aid

Protecting your reputation

What is involved?

State aid rules apply to grants, loans, and tax breaks including enhanced capital allowances, and the use or sale of a state asset for free or at less than market price.

The rules apply where private sector businesses receive public sector funds, but also where public sector funding is given to organisations such as charities, public authorities and other non-profit making bodies to support their commercial activities. This gives them an advantage over other organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union.

The rules are not easy to follow and there are consequences for failure to apply them correctly. It could result in the organisation that has received funding having to repay it, or it could damage the reputation of the public body who granted the state aid. If it is seen to distort competition, it is classed as being illegal state aid.

Why choose Freeths?

  • We have considerable experience in providing advice to both private and public sector clients on the EU state aid rules. This includes advising on state aid block exemptions, frameworks and guidelines, as well as notifications and complaints, and issues arising in relation to ERDF and infrastructure funding.
  • We also regularly work with private sector clients to provide state aid legal opinions required for funding applications and advise public sector clients when to seek a state aid legal opinion from funding applicants.
  • Freeths can help you avoid state aid issues by checking that your organisation is entitled to state aid, and ensuring you have a thorough understanding of whether funding constitutes state aid. We often help clients to manage state aid issues in situations where they are making an application for public sector grant funding, or need advice on the implications of funding arrangements.

Call our experienced team of Competition lawyers to find out how Freeths could help you.

Meet the team

State Aid Lawyers

Nathan Holden

Nathan Holden

0845 077 9646

Andrew Maxwell

Andrew Maxwell

0845 128 6997

Stephen Pearson

Stephen Pearson

0845 274 6900


"Freeths’ lawyers are acknowledged for their ‘excellent service and specialist expertise'. Nathan Holden, who heads the team, is particularly recommended."

"Local government practice handles a full spectrum of work for clients … our recent highlights include Stephen Pearson advising Scape System Build on the establishment of a joint venture vehicle with Nottinghamshire County Council."

Notable Work
  • Advising a UK Government Department on the application of the state aid rules to UK Government support to the nuclear industry.
  • Advising a City Council and a District Council on the state aid implications respectively of an escrow account arrangement on a land redevelopment scheme and of an energy investment.
  • Producing a state aid legal opinion on the regional aid provisions of the General Block Exemption Regulation and the Regional Aid Guidelines for a private sector client’s successful grant application.
  • Advising a large number of clients on a variety of state aid issues related to ERDF and infrastructure funding, including for several LEPs and City Regions.
  • Creating compliant loan regimes for Derby City Council and advising on state aid for a variety of local authorities and NFP entities, including Charnwood, Chesterfield, Corby, Nottingham, Derbyshire Dales and Staffordshire Moorlands.
  • Negotiating with Government DCLG state aid units and advising Chesterfield Borough Council, Derby City Council and South Yorkshire City Region in relation to major infrastructure and inner city regeneration projects that have all raised complex state aid issues.
  • Training a number of Local Authorities and a LEP on State aid and when to seek a state aid legal opinion.
  • Advising a major defence company on the application of the state aid rules to the establishment of a quantum technology centre of excellence.
  • Acting for a stock exchange on the state aid implications of its future funding arrangements in light of a European Commission state aid decision on its existing arrangements.
  • Advising the UK Government’s Department of Health Commercial Directorate on emerging NHS healthcare markets, including on the application of the state aid, competition law, merger control and public procurement rules to NHS System Reform and the ISTC programme (under which the NHS was opened up to competition from the independent sector).
  • Acting for the Department of Health on the application of the state aid, competition and public procurement rules to security of supply issues arising in the context of a potential dispute involving blood plasma products.
  • Advising two local authorities on the state aid implications of the grant arrangements in connection with the development of Britain’s first spa hotel in 100 years.

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our service


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

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