Josh Holmes KC

Josh Holmes KC

Call: 1997 | 2018 (Ireland) | Silk: 2017

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    MA (Oxon) – first class; BCL (Oxon); LL.M. Harvard

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    Josh’s practice covers all aspects of competition law and regulation, including communications, energy, financial services and data. He was recognised in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2021 list, which described him as “the king of Competition”. The directories single him out as “one of very best competition / EU lawyers of his generation”, “a superstar” who “marries technical expertise and strategic excellence”. He was selected as Legal 500’s Competition law Silk of the Year for 2022.

    He is described as a “compelling advocate” with “excellent court sense”, who is “capable of demolishing the other side step by step”; “a brilliant lawyer” who is “incredibly clever” and “ultra-sensible”; and as a “smooth operator”, who is “pragmatic”, “commercial” and able to “work ‘exceptionally well with clients’.”

    He is experienced in dealing with the most complex disputes, typically involving heavy economic and technical evidence and/or raising novel legal issues.  He appears regularly before UK and EU Courts and regulators; and has also advised on competition and regulatory matters arising in many other jurisdictions.  His clients range from major multinationals to small firms, as well as national governments and regulatory authorities from around the world.

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    • Recent / major cases


      • Peugeot v. SKF (2018): defending a major follow-on damages claim in the Competition Appeal Tribunal
      • Schrems II and La Quadrature du Net (2018); appearing in the EU Courts on two major cases on international trade and regulation in the data field
      • FDIC v. Rabobank and others (2018): acting for Rabobank in UK competition damages claim brought by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in relation to LIBOR
      • Apple v. European Commission (2018): acting for US Government in proceedings before the General Court
      • Viasat v. Ofcom (2018): defending Ofcom in challenge brought by Viasat in relation to the licensing of Inmarsat’s satellite broadband system for commercial aircraft;
      • Agent’s Mutual v. Gascoigne Halman (2018): acting in the Court of Appeal for Agent’s Mutual in a long-running competition dispute concerning online property portals
      • Cathay Pacific / Japan Airlines v. European Commission (2018): acting for EC in defending the air cargo decision in appeals before the General Court
    • Competition / regulatory

      Josh’s competition practice covers all aspects of UK and EU competition law. He was selected as Competition Silk of the Year in 2022 by Legal 500. In the course of his practice, he regularly:

      • represents clients in front of the UK competition regulators and the European Commission;
      • appears in appeals against infringement decisions and State aid decisions in the UK and the EU;
      • acts in competition law damages claims;
      • provides specialist competition expertise in IP proceedings; and
      • advises clients and regulators on the application of EU and UK competition law generally.

      He is also a leading practitioner in relation to sector-specific competition and regulatory litigation, with a particular focus on tech; communication; pharmaceuticals / healthcare; energy; and financial services.


      Recent cases include:

      • Epic -v- Google and Coll -v- Google (ongoing): acting for Google in defending two major private actions relating to the distribution of apps on Android mobile phones and tablets.
      • McLaren -v- WWL (ongoing): representing international shipping conglomerate, WWL, in collective proceedings brought on behalf of UK car purchasers.
      • UK Trucks Cartel litigation (2019 – 2023): acted for Ryder, the US transport giant, in its claim against the leading European truck manufacturers. This was the largest single claimant competition claim ever brough in the UK Courts.
      • Liothyronine, Hydrocortisone and Phenytoin litigation (ongoing): acting in three large pharmaceutical appeals involving excessive pricing in the CAT.
      • Google v. European Commission (2022): represented Google as lead advocate before the General Court at the hearing of its appeal against the European Commission’s AdSense Decision and imposition of a 1.4bn Euro fine.
      • Meta v. CMA (2022): successfully defended the CMA’s decision blocking Meta’s acquisition of Giffy in judicial review proceedings before the CAT.
      • Broadcom v. European Commission (2021): acted for Broadcom in appealing to the General Court against the European Commission’s first interim measures decision in a competition law case since 2001. The case settled when the Commission agreed to end the underlying investigation in exchange for commitments and withdrew the contested interim measures decision.
      • Forrest Fresh Foods -v- Coca Cola European Partners (2021). Successfully defended a £10m+ claim for damages in the Competition Appeal Tribunal brought by an independent distributor against the largest Coca Cola bottling group. Josh led an application for summary judgment / strike-out, and succeeded in knocking the claim out completely, a rare achievement in an abuse of dominance claim.
      • Royal Mail -v- OFCOM (2019-2021). Successfully defeated successive appeals in the CAT and the Court of Appeal against an infringement decision on by Ofcom, the UK communications regulator. The case was the first in the UK to consider the meaning of the CJEU’s judgment in Intel.
      • Agent’s Mutual v. Gascoigne Halman (2018): succeeded before the CAT and the Court of Appeal in defeating a challenge to the terms of business of a prominent online property portal.
      • Ball bearings litigation (2016-2018): acted for the Swedish multinational, SKF, in defending a claim for damages brought by the carmaker, Peugeot, for alleged harm resulting from an antitrust infringement in ball bearings. The case was ultimately settled on the eve of trial. Josh has subsequently been instructed in many other cartel damages claims, including cathode picture tubes (acting for Technicolor); car onboard safety systems (acting for Toyoda); and hydraulic braking systems (acting for ZF).
      • StreetMap -v- Google (2016) Josh acted for Google, led by Jon Turner QC. They successfully defended this abuse of dominance claim brought by an online mapping company in the UK courts. It was the first search engine bundling case in Europe to go to full trial. A key issue in the case was how the antitrust rules should apply in circumstances where the alleged infringement served to support pro-competitive innovation.
    • EU

      Josh appears regularly in the EU courts in Luxembourg, representing the UK government, private businesses and the European Commission.  Before beginning practice at the Bar, he worked at the Court of Justice of the EU as a referendaire in the cabinet of Advocate General Francis Jacobs.  He frequently also acts in litigation in the UK courts having an EU law aspect.


      • Symphony Environmental -v- European Parliament, The Council of Ministers and The European Commission (ongoing) Josh is leading an appeal brought by the plastic manufacturer, Symphony Environmental, claiming damages for losses caused by a ban introduced by the EU institutions on the sale of oxo-degradable plastic products in the EU. The case raises important legal issues on the EU’s regulatory framework applicable to chemicals, and the proportionality of product bans under EU law.
      • Servier -v- European Commission. Acted for the UK Government in opposing Servier’s appeal to the EU Courts to challenge the Commission’s finding of infringement in the pharmaceutical sector.
      • Japan Airline/Cathay Pacific -v- Commission (ongoing). Acting for the European Commission in defending appeals brought by the airlines to the Court of Justice. Josh also represented the Commission before the general Court. He has appeared in a number of major cartel appeals in the General Court, including in in relation heat stabilisers and gas insulated switchgear.
      • Broadcom -v- Commission (2021). led team in appealing the European Commission’s first interim measures decision since 2001 to the General Court. Josh pleaded Broadcom’s application for annulment and successfully prosecuted its application for expedited treatment. The case settled when the Commission agreed to end the underlying investigation in exchange for commitments and withdrew the contested interim measures decision.
      • Boeing/Embraer joint venture (2020). Retained by Boeing to defend the proposed deal before the European Commission.
      • Lundbeck -v- Commission (2019). This CJEU appeal is an important test case on the analysis of ‘pay for delay’ agreements under EU antitrust law. Similar issues were considered by the US Supreme Court in FTC v. Actavis. Josh successfully advocated the case on behalf of the UK Government.
      • Schrems II and La Quadrature du Net (2018); appearing in the EU Courts on two major cases on international trade and regulation in the data field
      • Apple v. European Commission (2018): acting for US Government in proceedings before the General Court
      • Frucona -v- Commission (2011-2017). Josh acted for the applicant / appellant in successfully challenging a Commission state aid decision. The case involved multiple hearings before the GC and CJEU and raised questions on the allocation of the probative burden and adequacy of the Commission’s analysis.
    • What the directories say

      Competition Law: Josh is a fantastic advocate, who is cool, calm, collected, respectful and thoughtful.” “He’s amazingly efficient at cross-examination.” “He is formidable in terms of his understanding of competition economics and case strategy.” “Josh is excellent, both in writing and on his feet.” “Josh is a very talented man who grasps very quickly the strong and weak points of any case and is able to react and change tactics on the spot, very effectively.” “He also has a lovely manner with the court.” “He is exceptionally bright, precise, commercial and client-friendly.” “Josh is at the top of his game.” – Chambers UK, 2024

      European Law: Josh is client-friendly and a really good advocate. He handles damages cases really well.” “Josh is excellent, both in his writing and on his feet.” – Chambers UK, 2024

      Telecommunications: “Josh is very strategically focused. He is extremely effective and shows good litigation nous.” – Chambers UK, 2024

      Leading Silk in Competition: Josh is a first-rate silk. He is everything you want from a senior counsel: fiercely intelligent, commercial in approach, fantastic in front of clients, across the detail, excellent judgement and great on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2024

      Leading Silk in EU Law: ‘‘A very commercial silk who is persuasive on his feet.’’– Legal 500, 2024

      Leading silk in Telecoms (Regulatory): ‘‘Josh has extraordinary gravitas and a terrific way with both clients and judges. As an advocate, he makes the most complex things seem clear and obvious.’’ – Legal 500, 2024

      Competition Law: “He is super bright and an extremely good advocate. He’s very good at cross-examination, which he does in an unobtrusive way.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2023

      European Law: “Exceptionally bright and outstanding on the technical points.” – Chambers UK, 2023

      Telecommunications: “He has a super grasp of what our objectives are and how to achieve them.” “We really appreciate Josh’s knowledgeable and sensible advice. He is always calm, practical, helpful and straightforward to deal with.” – Chambers UK, 2023

      Leading Silk in Competition – Legal 500, 2023

      Leading Silk in EU Law: ‘‘Clarity, brevity; Josh has the ability to understand the specific constraints associated with representing a public institution.’’Legal 500, 2023

      Leading silk in Telecoms (Regulatory): ‘‘Josh is a star. He is forensic, clear and concise. He drafts beautifully and his oral advocacy is outstanding, including in cross examination. He prepares thoroughly and it shows’’Legal 500, 2023

      “Josh Holmes QC is described by market experts as “meticulous, well prepared and persuasive”. One of the many highlights of his exemplary practice is state aid appeal work in the UK and EU.” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal Global Guide 2022

      “Josh Holmes QC is a go-to silk for his “impressive delivery in court”, as well for being “a calm and pleasant silk to deal with.” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2022

      “Josh Holmes QC has a calm attitude and the ability to assimilate incredible amounts of complex and detailed information in short spaces of time, then articulate key arguments and points clearly.” – Telecoms, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2022

      European Law: “He is extremely able and impressive analytically.” “He has excellent presence and a great depth of knowledge.” – Chambers UK, 2022

      Competition Law: “He is a delightful barrister who is very intellectually rigorous and careful in giving accurate advice.” “He has a great understanding of competition law and he is very commercial – the clients really like him because he gives tailored advice.” “The great thing he brings is his immense clarity of thinking: he gets to grips with every detail.” “Josh is a joy to work with; clients really appreciate his knowledge of competition law and strategic insights combined with a relaxed and affable manner.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2022

      Telecommunications: “He is super intelligent, very strategic, drafts like a dream and is a deft advocate both in submissions and cross-examination.” “A superb lawyer in competition and regulation.” – Chambers UK, 2022

      Leading Silk in Competition: ‘‘An incredibly persuasive advocate with excellent judgement.’’Legal 500, 2022

      Leading Silk in EU Law: ‘‘Great on paper and on his feet. Excellent with clients.’’Legal 500, 2022

      Leading silk in IT and Telecoms (Regulatory) – Legal 500, 2022

      “Josh Holmes QC is praised by interviewees as an “absolute go-to for complex competition disputes” in the energy, finance and data sectors.” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal Global Guide 2021

      Recommended in Telecoms & Media, Who’s Who Legal Global Guide 2021

      Telecommunications: “Extremely precise, intellectually honest and very compelling.” “He has unparalleled knowledge of telecoms and European law, and is absolutely brilliant at drafting and distilling arguments into easy to read and understand points.” “A superb and incredibly clear advocate. If you need someone to take on really, really complicated factual and technical regulatory policy work, you go to him as he’ll have good arguments and explain them in a crystal-clear way to the judge.” – Chambers UK, 2021

      European Law: “Josh is very pragmatic, sensible and extremely easy to work with.” “He gets up to speed really quickly,” and “has the dynamism and energy to get right to the bottom of things.” “He is exceptionally quick to grasp detail and adept at explaining difficult concepts clearly.” – Chambers UK, 2021

      Competition Law: “Josh is very pragmatic, sensible and extremely easy to work with.” “He gets up to speed really quickly,” and “has the dynamism and energy to get right to the bottom of things.” “He is exceptionally quick to grasp detail and adept at explaining difficult concepts clearly.”Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2021

      Leading Silk in Competition: ‘‘Josh Holmes QC is an exceptionally good junior QC. He is quick to get on top of the detail and the issues; communicates complex points to clients clearly and precisely; and is very user friendly. I have no hesitation in putting Josh in front of clients.’’Legal 500, 2021

      Leading Silk in EU Law: ‘‘A firm favourite for me. He was an excellent senior junior and is growing in stature as a silk. His strengths are his attention to detail, being hard-working, and excellent on his feet.’’Legal 500, 2021

      Leading Silk in IT and Telecoms: ‘‘A brilliant advocate who is absolutely superb in every aspect of his work. He has a fierce intellect and can get to grips with matters of great complexity extremely quickly.’’- Legal 500, 2021

      “Well regarded” for his outstanding ability in regulation and competition matters across a range of sectors.” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2020

      Josh Holmes QC enjoys a stellar international reputation for his leading commercial practice, which includes telecommunications regulation and related disputes.”- Telecoms, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2020

      Telecommunications: “A superb lawyer and a superb advocate who conducts himself without ostentation and without any self-promotion; he just speaks for the case in the most straightforward, clear way.” “He’s approachable, he breaks complex issues into simple terms, he makes himself available at short notice, and he quickly turns work around.” – Chambers UK, 2020

      European Law: “Has brilliant judgement and an encyclopaedic knowledge of EU law.” “He understands very well what we are looking for.” “All of the barristers I work with have good written and oral advocacy skills, but I would say he is consistently among the most impressive.” – Chambers UK, 2020

      Competition Law: “Able to get to grips with difficult points quickly and simplify them. He drafts things in a really clear way and brings out the story behind the case.” “Insightful, commercial and very client-friendly, he is someone whose advice is always spot on.” “His arguments are to the point and he gets things across very concisely.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2020 

      Leading Silk in Competition: ‘‘An effective advocate and a team player.’’Legal 500, 2020

      Leading Silk in EU Law: ‘‘Measured, calm and a good strategist.’’Legal 500, 2020

      Leading Silk in IT and Telecoms: ‘‘An excellent leader in regulatory appeals, he is clear, calm, and forensic in his submissions and cross-examination, and is very user-friendly. His understanding of telecoms law is second to none.’’’- Legal 500, 2020

      Draws acclaim from respondents as “a highly skilled, personable, thorough and clever barrister” and “one of the very best as the bar”. He is well versed in competition regulations pertaining to the communications, energy and financial services sectors” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2019

      A true gentleman of the bar with a near-unrivalled knowledge of the area”. His speciality lies in competition law and regulation of the EU and the UK”- Telecoms, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2019

      Competition Law: “pleasant to deal with … drafts very clearly … very precise and good at getting the point across” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2019

      European Law: “He is very approachable, with a superb manner, and is technically and strategically astute.” “He is an excellent performer in the EU courts in Luxembourg. He knows the system very well.” Chambers UK, 2019

      Telecommunications: “Has an absolutely fantastic feel for the tactics and strategy of a case and has a persuasive, considered style of advocacy.” “He builds a picture slowly, steadily and without dramatics to produce a very forceful argument, and is very subtle in his cross-examination of witnesses.” – Chambers UK, 2019

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