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A very highly regarded chambers with an outstandingly strong bench of silks and juniors, Blackstone Chambers offers an array of expertise in telecoms matters, handling commercial disputes, as well as competition and regulatory matters. Members frequently represent significant service providers, consumers and regulators before the High Court, the Commercial Court, and the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Demonstrating great expertise in EU law, the set regularly advises service providers on EU laws and regulations, as well as the compatibility of Ofcom regulations with EU Directives. They are further proficient in handling intellectual property disputes for multinational technology companies, and in providing representation in relation to FRAND. One notable recent matter saw chambers acting for Privacy International before the CJEU in a case concerning the application of EU law to service providers in relation to mass data collection. A client comments: "Blackstone has a hugely commercial and highly professional team that's good to work with."
Client service: "It's an excellent set. Everyone there is extremely impressive and the clerks are helpful and responsive." Gary Oliver is the senior clerk.
Alan Maclean QC
Enters the rankings this year due to recognition from peers and solicitors alike for his expertise in telecoms disputes. He is frequently retained by telecoms giants to represent them in competition law mandates, and is also instructed by telco service providers in relation to commercial disputes. He has notable experience of handling issues arising from the EU Framework and Access Directives.
Strengths: "He walked into court the first time I saw him and persuaded everyone to do something that I just didn't think would be possible, and he did it through sheer intellectual argument. He is good at explaining complex regulatory problems to judges." "A good advocate and a sensible barrister."
Recent work: Acted for AJ Sheriff against the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority in a case concerning access to Gibtelecom's infrastructure. The case touched on issues raised by both Gibraltar law and the EU Framework and Access Directives.
Brian Kennelly QC
Rapidly becoming one of the most prominent silks in the telecoms sector owing to his close relationship with a key UK operator. He advises on significant competition law cases, Ofcom investigations and non-contentious compliance mandates. Kennelly is well regarded for his expertise in relation to net neutrality compliance issues.
Strengths: "The future star in this sector. He is hugely charming, great at advocacy, and a joy to work with." "He works well with both solicitors and clients and provides intelligent, commercial advice."
Recent work: Represented Three in the Commercial Court in relation to claims for restitution of annual licence fees. The claims were brought by four mobile network operators against Ofcom, following a Court of Appeal judgment that found that the setting of these fees were unlawful. Ofcom appealed the judgment.
Appears increasingly in significant cases in the telecoms sector. He acts for both the regulator and key telecoms operators, and is frequently led by prominent silks at the set. Cashman is regarded by peers and instructing solicitors as a rising star in the telecoms arena, and is noted for his adept handling of matters that contain EU law elements.
Strengths: "Young, bright, confident beyond his years, and someone with an eye for detail." "Commercially astute and client-friendly, Daniel is without a doubt a future star of the Bar."
Recent work: Represented Ofcom in relation to challenges concerning its Business Connectivity Market Review. The appeals raised specified price control matters which are to be determined by the Competition and Markets Authority.
David Pannick QC
Hugely respected among peers at the Bar for his superb advocacy skills and for his broad practice that takes in significant public and commercial law matters, including telecoms-related cases. He is recognised for his frequent appearances before the Court of Appeal in judicial reviews.
Strengths: "He is, as is universally recognised, one of the great barristers of his generation."
Recent work: Acted for EE Limited in relation to mobile spectrum licence fee restitution claims against Ofcom.
Dinah Rose QC
Widely recognised as a leading public law silk who stands out for her presence in key telecoms regulatory appeals brought before the CAT or the Administrative Court. She maintains an outstanding reputation for her forceful advocacy style and her performance in judicial reviews. Her impressive client base consists of all the significant domestic network operators, as well as regulatory authorities.
Strengths: "One of the outstanding lawyers of her generation. She is a superb advocate, who prepares incredibly well and knows just how to address the court. She adapts her approach to the circumstances and distils very complex legal arguments into very clear points." "It's hard to find someone who understands the economics and details of the law and presents it so clearly as she does." "You just need to watch her in court - she is very bright and incredibly engaging."
Recent work: Represented a number of network operators including BT, Sky, and TalkTalk against Ofcom in the Court of Appeal, in relation to challenging an Ofcom decision that claimed that BT overcharged by £90 million for wholesale broadband services.
Stands out for her presence on either side of many of the most important Court of Appeal cases in the telecoms sector in recent years, covering market-defining issues including access to dark fibre. She is a popular choice among silks both within chambers and in other sets to act as a junior in administrative appeals that have significant financial implications for telecoms operators, such as matters relating to the determination of annual licence fees. She is also often directly instructed by key clients to advise on diverse compliance topics.
Strengths: "Emily Neill is extremely helpful and she anticipates issues before they become a problem." "She is brilliant, as she is very commercial but also very client-friendly. She is extremely responsive and engaging, meaning she's good to do business with." "She is an excellent, approachable, genuine and good-natured barrister."
Recent work: Acted as sole counsel for the Competition and Markets Authority in a matter concerning Ofcom's Business Connectivity Market Review. The challenges to the review raised price control issues, which need to be determined by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Regularly chosen by leading silks within chambers to support commercial litigation, arbitration or regulatory mandates. He is also instructed as sole counsel in commercial disputes between telecoms operators. He has particular experience of representing the regulatory body in spectrum auction matters.
Strengths: "Extremely bright, very easy to work with, and someone with an excellent oral advocacy style. He's calm, measured, and well prepared."
Recent work: Advised the BBC in relation to the current prominence regime for public service broadcasting. This regime requires providers of commercial television services to give appropriate prominence to free-to-air public service broadcasters, such as the BBC.
New silk who has increasing prominence in the telecoms sphere, he is well known for his work on major competition and intellectual property law cases that require a deep understanding of telecoms technology. Notably, he has experience of acting in competition law and IP disputes in relation to FRAND trials. Segan also assists with administrative appeals on behalf of telecoms service providers.
Strengths: "Has a deep understanding of the telecoms market, and his mastery of advocacy is top-notch." "He is technically excellent, always well prepared, great on his feet, and very pragmatic; he's a pleasure to work with."
Recent work: Acted for Lenovo against Interdigital Technology in defending a global FRAND royalty claim.
Javan Herberg QC
Acts in telecoms regulatory and commercial matters as part of a wider administrative law practice that is focused around the financial services sector. He has experience on both the Ofcom and operator sides of investigations and has had involvement in a number of Supreme Court and CAT hearings. He is proficient in handling telecoms mandates containing EU law elements.
Strengths: "Professional, knowledgeable, smart and, above all, a man who knows how regulators tick."
Recent work: Represented Ofcom in relation to an appeal by Virgin. The appeal concerned the imposition of a penalty of £7 million for wrongful conduct in relation to early termination charges.
Frequently acts on the regulator side of key telecoms judicial review cases. She has appeared in a number of notable telecoms matters, frequently representing the regulator. Boyd is well-versed in providing advice to the regulatory body on spectrum auctions, the Freedom of Information Act, and a number of other issues.
Strengths: "Ferociously clever, and easy to work with." "She is an excellent all-round public law barrister, who is great on telecoms as well."
Recent work: Acted for Ofcom in relation to a judicial review challenging the annual licence fees imposed by the regulatory body for the use of 1800 MHz and 900 MHz spectrum. The case is significant as it determines the lawfulness of Ofcom's approach to setting the fees paid by mobile phone companies for spectrum.
Kieron Beal QC
Stands out for his work on behalf of key companies seeking to influence Ofcom decisions that are intended to affect competition in the telecoms and media space. He also advises on sensitive compliance topics and acts in cases related to data and surveillance.
Strengths: "A clear and forceful advocate." "He has a lot of experience in public law and telecoms, and is great for judicial reviews." "Kieron is calm, authoritative, very sensible and extremely persuasive."
Recent work: Represented Sky plc as an interested party in a judicial review challenge to a decision of Ofcom concluding that the company remained a fit and proper person to hold a broadcasting licence under the Broadcasting Acts 1990 and 1996. The case arose out of the proposed merger between Sky and 21st Century Fox Inc.
Has experience on the defendant side of CAT, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court cases that challenge Ofcom decisions on key aspects of telecoms regulation. He is well equipped to handle cases at the intersection of telecoms and media regulation.
Strengths: "An able barrister, whose cross-examination skills are both very good and highly effective."
Recent work: Acted for Ofcom in relation to challenges concerning Ofcom's Business Connectivity Market Review. The challenges related to specified price control matters to be determined by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Monica Carss-Frisk QC
Has a long-standing reputation as a leading administrative law silk and stands out for the breadth of her practice. She has experience in EU and UK public law cases that relate to the licensing or regulation of telecoms operators.
Strengths: "Very impressive as she has an encyclopedic knowledge of the area. She cites the law by heart all the time, and many times that wins a case." "Incredibly effective and brilliant with clients, she is particularly good at putting forward difficult propositions in a way that is palatable to them. A strong advocate."
Recent work: Assisted on a matter for Three. The case concerned the amount of restitution of annual licence fees that needed to be paid by Ofcom to the four mobile network operators.
Thomas de la Mare QC
Handles diverse public and European law, as well as intellectual property cases that often involve companies in the telecoms and media sectors. He has experience in high-profile cases that examine the relationship between data protection laws and the obligation to share telecoms data with UK security services. De la Mare frequently appears in judicial reviews, as well as cases before the Commercial Court and the ECJ.
Strengths: "Tom is an effective advocate on his feet, who is innovative in his arguments." "Tom de la Mare's work is robust and he's always at the top of his game."
Recent work: Acted for Virgin Media in the CJEU in relation to an intervention. The case concerned the legality and scope of s.73 CDPA, and the ability that it confers on cable operators to retransmit public broadcasting content.
Advises telecoms operators on sensitive competition law and judicial review cases, including those that intersect with media and broadcasting law. He has represented mobile network operators as sole counsel before the CAT.
Strengths: "He understands the business and the telecoms sector well. He is responsive and he is always willing to take a lead on everything."
Recent work: Represented Telefónica in the Commercial Court in relation to claims for restitution of annual licence fees exceeding £200 million.
Acts for both operators and the regulator in high-profile and complex telecoms cases on issues ranging from dark fibre and licence fees, to spectrum auctions. He draws praise for his significant telecoms regulatory knowledge and his complementary strength in competition law matters, and often acts for regulatory authorities.
Strengths: "He is a very clever person, a good advocate, and someone who is very pleasant to work with."
Recent work: Represented Ofcom in relation to challenges brought against the regulator's Business Connectivity Market Review. The challenge was in relation to price control issues.