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 is recognised in The Lawyer’s Hot 100 2021 list. 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 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 has twice been awarded Competition and EU junior of the year (in 2011 and 2013) and has been described in Chambers 100 as ‘one of the very best competition / EU lawyers of his generation’.  His competition practice covers all aspects of EU and UK competition law.  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 regulation, with a particular focus on the communications sector (including the internet); pharmaceuticals / healthcare; energy; and financial services.

    • 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.


    • What the directories say

      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, 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

      New Silk in Competition: ‘‘He is hugely knowledgeable about competition law, has superb drafting skills and is excellent with clients.’’Legal 500, 2018

      New Silk in EU Law: ‘‘Always well prepared, produces drafts quickly and is a very safe pair of hands; clarity, brevity, attention to detail.’’Legal 500, 2018

      New Silk in Telecoms (regulatory): ‘‘He is of very high quality in his analysis, drafting and advocacy.’’Legal 500, 2018

      Competition Law: “He is good on his feet, a good advocate who works very hard and is very user-friendly.”Chambers UK, 2018

      European Law: “A very good opponent who is well prepared and enviably articulate.”Chambers UK, 2018

      Telecommunications:  “A brilliant lawyer who is very easy to work with and very bright. He provides clear and honest advice.” “Josh has lots of experience of fronting cases. He is great to deal with and gets to the heart of a problem.”Chambers UK, 2018

      New Silk in Competition: ‘‘He marries technical expertise and strategic excellence with whole-hearted commitment.’’Legal 500, 2017

      New Silk in EU Law: ‘‘User-friendly and pragmatic in his approach.’’Legal 500, 2017

      New Silk in Telecoms (regulatory): ‘‘An excellent silk.’’Legal 500, 2017

      Competition – Future Leaders 2017: Barristers Analysis: “Josh Holmes QC has a “well-deserved reputation for excellence” according to clients, with a practice that covers all areas of competition law.” WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL), 2017

      Competition: “Josh Holmes QC has taken silk this year. He was one of the most highly rated juniors in our research. One source says, ‘he is incredibly clever, measured and calm’.” WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL) UK BAR, 2017

      Competition Law: “He is very bright and personable, and fits into a team really well.”Chambers UK, 2017

      European Law: “He is a very strong EU law practitioner” who “can more than hold his own when pitted against a bunch of silks.”Chambers UK, 2017

      Telecommunications: “He is outstanding and incredibly good to work with. He’s ultra-sensible and you know you’ll end up with a case that is really well thought through.” “An absolute gentleman and a very able advocate.”Chambers UK, 2017

      Leading junior in EU and Competition: “He works extraordinarily hard to master the nuances of a case; a tremendous senior junior.” – Legal 500, 2016

      Leading junior in Telecoms (regulatory): “An effective advocate and a real team player.”Legal 500, 2016

      Competition: Impresses peers and clients time and again with his “excellent court sense” and “eloquent advocacy skills”. Combined with his vast experience before courts and regulators in the UK and EU, he is regularly referred to as “the best junior in his field”. WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL) UK BAR, 2016

      Telecommunications: A “creative and knowledgeable barrister”, with the ability to work “exceptionally well with clients”.WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL) UK BAR, 2016

      Telecommunications: “A personable, warm advocate who appeals to the court, and is a bright, prodigious worker.”Chambers UK, 2016

      Competition Law: “Very hard-working, very forensic and a good draftsman.” “He is a tremendous asset to any team.”Chambers UK & Chambers Global, 2016

      European Law: “Super-smart”, “An excellent junior; very commercial” – Chambers UK, 2016

      ”He has all the qualities you would expect in a top barrister.” Leading junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2015

      ”He has a very sensible, practical approach.” Leading Junior in Telecoms Law. Legal 500, 2015

      Competition Law: “He is a superstar; clients use him as an alternative to a silk.” “Absolutely first-rate, he’s responsive, switched-on, pragmatic and very easy to use.”Chambers UK, 2015

      European Law: “A very able barrister whom it is a pleasure to work with.” Chambers UK, 2015

      Telecommunications: “A smooth operator with an encyclopaedic knowledge of this area.” He “drafts like a dream” and is “capable of demolishing the other side step by step.”Chambers UK, 2015

      Telecommunications: “The “outstanding” Josh Holmes has years of experience serving clients with complex matters in communications regulation including online matters. He is “one of the leading practitioners in the field” and clients admire his “hard-working” ethic.”Who’s Who Legal ,2015

      Competition: “Josh Holmes is a “clear and articulate” barrister with a practice covering all aspects of EU and UK competition law.” – Who’s Who Legal, 2015

      ‘Smart, incisive and pragmatic.’ Josh is ranked as a top tier Leading Junior in EU & Competition Law – Legal 500, 2014

      ‘Extremely bright and commercial in his outlook.’ Josh is ranked as a top tier Leading Junior in Telecommunications Law – Legal 500, 2014

      Josh Holmes is one of the very best competition / EU lawyers of his generation. He is regularly called upon to take part in the major cases in the field and is many top silks’ first choice for junior… Solicitors say that “Josh has an exceptional mind and ability to take complex legal matters and present them in a business-friendly manner. His formidable intellectual skill is matched by his first class service and genuine approachability.” Chambers 100

      Under Competition Law: Josh Holmes is ranked as a Star Individual. He earns high praise as one of the most impressive senior juniors in the competition arena, and is highly valued for his familiarity with the European courts. “He is very bright and has an excellent ability to distil complex economic evidence and complicated legal arguments into a comprehensible form.” “Has a sharp mind and pragmatic, commercial skills.”Chambers UK, 2014

      Under Telecommunications Law: Has established a fine reputation acting for regulators. Following stints working at both the ECJ and the EC, he has now become known as a skilled advocate who is active in both the CAT and Court of Appeal. “He has top analytical ability and excellent knowledge of EU and competition law.” “He offers great logical arguments and clear advocacy.”Chambers UK, 2014

      Josh Holmes is highly praised by his fellow barristers for his eloquent delivery, excellent client manner and “good grasp of both the big picture and details””GCR Barrister Survey, 2013

      Competition & European Law: “The “unassuming, very able and very client-friendly” Josh Holmes is highlighted for his “ability to illustrate points very well” and is praised as being “as clever as they get.” In the past year he was instructed by Ofcom in BSkyB’s appeal against the pay-TV decision.” Chambers UK, 2013

      Josh Holmes is a recommended leading junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2012

      Under Competition/European Law “highly sought after junior Josh Holmes “is a delight to work with,” according to his solicitor fan base. “He is a really easy person to get on with, extremely clever in an understated way and very collaborative in his approach,” say those that use him. He has been instructed on appeals against the gas-insulated switchgear cartel decision and is also acting in a major state aid appeal.” – Chambers UK, 2012

      For Telecommunications, “Josh Holmes “impresses clients and speaks their language.” A man with “considerable commercial acumen and strong analytical skills,” he offers “perfect off-the-shelf advice and he gets it spot-on every time.” Holmes regularly appears for Ofcom.” – Chambers UK, 2012

      EU & Competition Law recommends Josh Holmes “who ‘always makes himself available and provides excellent advice that the client finds incredibly useful’ and has a ‘unique combination of economic, legal and regulatory experience’.” Legal 500, 2011

      “”Josh Holmes is widely recognised as one of the most talented juniors in the UK, with one rival claiming: “he will be a leader in the future”. His busy workload includes representing National Grid in its abuse of dominance appeal against Ofgem, and is advising ISG Pearce in its appeal against the OFT’s construction cartel decision. Holmes is also counsel to Ryanair in the OFT’s probe over its minority stake in Aer Lingus, and has represented the airline in the General Court in Luxembourg.”” – Global Competition Review: Barrister Survey, 2011

      The calibre of Josh Holmes’s work has not gone unnoticed. Increasingly popular, he has appeared in well-publicised matters such as the Spectrum litigation, and has also had roles in such matters as Carphone Warehouse v Ofcom & BT. ‘His initially unassuming, quiet manner belies the fact that he is a really punchy advocate,’ according to interviewees” – Chambers UK, 2011 (Competition/European law)

      “Praised for being polite but persistent,’ Josh Holmes is ‘a highly persuasive advocate who profoundly analyses his cases.’ His recent cases include acting for Ofcom in Carphone Warehouse v Ofcom & BT, a telecoms price control case before the CAT.” – Chambers UK, 2011 (Telecommunications law)

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