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Enjoying a tremendous reputation for its broader public law practice, Blackstone is a top choice to advise on applications for judicial review of CMA, EC or other UK regulators' decisions. Its barristers act on either side of proceedings brought before the CJEU, the CAT or various other appellate courts in the UK. The set has further notable strength in private enforcement actions, including both follow-on and standalone claims. Key members have played an important role in the development of case law around the potential for anti-competitive conduct by holders of standard essential patents. Other matters they have been involved in include the trucks cartel saga, the air cargo litigation, the Interchange litigation and the 5G Auction Appeals, to name but a few. Commentators say that "the Blackstone competition team is a compact powerhouse" that is "full of very good people doing the most interesting work in the field."
Client service: "I value the set's speed and accessibility; these cases happen on very short timescales and the barristers are always responsive to our questions. They are reliable and we can trust that whatever they produce is first rate." "The set's clerking is very good and makes dealing with chambers straightforward." "The clerks, led by Gary Oliver, make sure that everything happens as discussed, on time and in an exemplary way."
Brian Kennelly QC
Has a superb reputation for his skill in handling competition law cases before both UK and EU courts. He has experience on the defendant side of several of the most important cartel damages cases ongoing in the UK courts, and further earns praise for his advice on a wider range of regulatory or public law cases. Kennelly advises a diverse array of clients including those from the financial services, retail and telecommunications sectors.
Strengths: "Gives clear, concise and accurate advice, and is someone who you can very easily put in front of clients." "He has a good manner in court; he is not showy but just gets on with the job and is very persuasive." "Brian is great at giving a strategic steer and the big-picture view on cases."
Recent work: Advised the EC on a CJEU appeal brought by Deutsche Bahn and Schenker seeking to overturn the Commission's finding of a cartel among freight forwarders.
Dinah Rose QC
Widely recognised as a leading public law silk with proven experience of appealing EC, CMA or Ofcom decisions on competition law grounds. She has additional experience on the defendant side of major cartel damages cases. Interviewees highlight her superb advocacy skills.
Strengths: "Incredibly good at getting right to the heart of the issue and bringing the court along with her in a very elegant way." "She is in a league of her own, and the sort of advocate you want if you are up against it in court." "Dinah is exceptional in her intelligence and ability to pick things up very quickly."
Recent work: Represented Visa in a key interchange fee case before the Court of Appeal. The court considered appeals from decisions made by the CAT and the High Court on the scope for retailers to win damages from Visa and Mastercard.
Regularly works with the CMA or sector regulators on the defence of judicial review proceedings brought on competition law grounds. Neill also advises both public and private sector clients on compliance topics and regulatory appeals.
Strengths: "Produces incredibly thorough, persuasive and precise written work." "We always make ridiculous demands on timing and she is always incredibly accommodating."
Recent work: Represented Telefónica UK as an interested party in Hutchison 3G and BT's application for judicial review of the rules set by Ofcom for the 5G spectrum auction.
Works with the firm's leading silks on a range of commercial damages and regulatory cases. He acts for the EC and for Ofcom on the defence of regulatory appeals brought to the CJEU, the CAT or the Court of Appeal, and further acts for private sector appellants.
Strengths: "Demonstrates huge wisdom as well as intelligence." "He is the person you approach to discuss the intricate issues of a case." "Hanif unpicks tricky issues so cleverly that you come away from speaking to him feeling slightly more clever yourself."
Recent work: Assisted the EC with the defence of its decision on the freight forwarding cartel.
Assists clients from the technology and sporting industries with competition law issues, including cartel cases. He is also active on the interface between competition law and IP law, handling patent infringement matters. Segan stands out for his work on cases that raise competition law arguments in relation to the requirement to license standard-essential patents on FRAND terms.
Strengths: "He is really eloquent, thoughtful and highly persuasive." "His advice is clear and explained in terms that can be understood by a broader audience - he demonstrates a very sound understanding of the subject matter."
Recent work: Assisted Huawei with competition law questions arising in its dispute with Unwired Planet. The case determined key issues relating to the licensing of standard-essential patents.
Has a broad competition law practice and is praised for his expert handling of private cartel damages claims, frequently advising the defendants. He also assists clients with CMA investigations. Pobjoy has played a key role in the defence of cartel damages claims on behalf of trucks manufacturers and financial services sector companies, amongst others.
Strengths: "He is incredibly responsive and is always available to pick up the phone and have a quick chat about anything, regardless of how minor the issue is." "His drafting is very persuasive and very clear, with no unnecessary words attached."
Recent work: Assisted Scania with the preparation of its defence to High Court and CAT proceedings brought by customers affected by the trucks cartel.
Has experience on both the regulator and appellant side of competition law-based reviews of Ofcom decisions. She also stands out for her work on CJEU appeals of cartel decisions made by the EC.
Strengths: "Really bright, alive to all the points in a case and someone with good judgement."
Recent work: Assisted J.P. Morgan with its CJEU appeal against a Commission finding of collusion between banks to manipulate EURIBOR.
Kieron Beal QC
Best known for his work on behalf of large claimant groups pursuing follow-on damages claims, having handled notable cases against financial services companies or manufacturers of cathode ray tubes. He has further experience in cases that examine the extent to which cartel damages claims can be caught by arbitration clauses in commercial contracts.
Strengths: "A master of follow-on damages litigation for claimants, who has an abundance of knowledge on the technical issues that arise." "He is extremely bright, down to earth and approachable." "Kieron is user-friendly and clients absolutely love working with him" as "he organises regular catch-ups with them and always ensures that he takes their viewpoints on board."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant group led by Deutsche Bahn in High Court proceedings against Mastercard seeking damages for the fixing of interchange fees.
Thomas de la Mare QC
Often identified as a strong choice for cases that test novel points of competition law or that allow for a creative approach, he acts in cartel damages claims, including key cases that establish a precedent for opt-out collective proceedings orders or that highlight the role of arbitration as a tool for the resolution of competition disputes. He also handles regulatory appeals on behalf of clients in the telecommunications and sports sectors.
Strengths: "Knows the judges in terms of their background and which points might appeal to them; he crafts his submissions well and pitches his arguments so as to make them highly attractive." "He knows how to think innovatively and tries to anticipate issues." "Tom is excellent when you need a can-do attitude to deal with quite difficult proposals." "He is great on his feet and really does fight his client's corner."
Recent work: Acted on the claimant side of Emerald Supplies Ltd and others v British Airways Plc.
Moves up to the top tier of junior competition barristers owing to strong praise for his client-handling skills and his contributions to a number of complex commercial cases. He advises on the claimant side of key cases that test UK law on the certification of collective proceedings. He also has a strong caseload of telecoms regulatory appeals.
Strengths: "He gets stuck in and is very thorough and diplomatic. It is always fine to put him in front of clients because he has always thought about all of the issues and is well prepared." "Really eloquent and persuasive," he is "a clever, articulate and calm advocate."
Recent work: Assisted a group of international claimants with High Court and CAT proceedings against participants in the trucks cartel.