Philip Woolfe

Call 2004
MA (Cantab), BA (First Class), BCL (Oxon)
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Philip is an EU law specialist with a particular focus on Competition Law and Telecommunications. He also has experience in Public Procurement, Commercial Litigation and Indirect Tax. He is a recommended junior for Competition/European Law and Telecommunications Law in the 2016 edition of Chambers and Partners, which describes him as “a considered advocate and people really listen to him,” and “has a great work ethic and is very hands-on.”

Philip appears regularly in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, High Court, Court of Appeal and in the First Tier and Upper Tier Tribunals. He also advises on regulatory proceedings before Ofcom, the OFT, the Competition Commission and the European Commission.

He is a Quondam Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford University and a contributing author to Bellamy and Child’s European Law of Competition (7th edition, OUP 2013).

Current cases include:

  • British Telecommunications plc v Ofcom [2011] CAT 24, [2012] EWCA Civ 1002, on further appeal to Supreme Court, the first case in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court to consider Ofcom’s dispute resolution jurisdiction under s.185 Communications Act 2003.
  • Acting for Secretary of State for Health in High Court damages actions concerning breaches of competition law in relation to Gaviscon and Perindopril.
  • Vodafone Limited and Verizon UK Limited v Ofcom: Acting for Vodafone and Verizon in appeal and reference to Competition commission concerning price controls on BT’s wholesale supply of leased lines
  • Competition & Telecommunications

    Philip is heavily involved in litigation both in the CAT and High Court and regularly advises on proceedings before Ofcom, the Competition Commission, the OFT and the European Commission.

    Current and recent work includes:

    • John Lewis plc v OFT [2013] CAT 7: Appeared for intervener in appeal against the implementation of undertakings in lieu of a      reference to the Competition Commission.
    • British Telecommunications plc v Ofcom [2011] CAT 24, [2012] EWCA Civ 1002, on further appeal to Supreme Court: Appearing for Mobile Network Operators in appeals against Ofcom’s determination of disputes concerning calls to non-geographic numbers.
    • Currently acting for the Secretary of State for Health in actions for damages against Reckitt Benckiser for abuse of a dominant position in relation to Gaviscon and against Laboratoires Servier in relation to Perindopril, and in proceedings before the European Commission.
    • Kier Group PLC and Others v OFT [2011] CAT 3, Interclass PLC v Office of Fair Trading [2012] EWCA Civ 1056; [2012] U.K.C.L.R.304: Junior counsel for OFT in appeals against fines imposed on construction firms for “cover pricing”.
    • TalkTalk Group PLC v Ofcom (Court of Appeal, judgment pending): Appeared in Court of Appeal for BSkyB (intervening) in appeal concerning a price control on British Telecommunications plc in relation to wholesale broadband services.
    • (1) British Sky Broadcasting Limited and TalkTalk Group PLC and (2) British Telecommunications plc v Ofcom (Local Loop Unbundling) [2013] CAT 8: Acted for Sky and TalkTalk in appeals to Competition Appeal Tribunal and references to Competition Commission
    • Vodafone Limited and Verizon UK Limited v Ofcom: Appeal and reference to Competition Commission concerning price controls on business leased lines.
  • Procurement Law

    Philip has undertaken a wide range of public procurement work, particularly in connection with the health sector. He frequently advises  and represents both private parties and authorities.

    Recent and notable cases include:

    • SITA v Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority, [2010] EWHC 680 (Ch); [2010] 2 C.M.L.R. 48 (first instance); [2011] EWCA Civ 156; [2011] T.C.L.R. 3 (on appeal), an action for damages under Public Contracts Regulations 2006.
    • Acting for an NHS Trust bidding for the provision of mental health services to a local authority;
    • Acting for a charity bidding for the provision of homelessness services to a local authority;
    • Advising a supplier of liquid foods bidding for the provision of goods to a consortium of NHS Trusts;
    • Advising a rail company seeking to purchase rolling stock on the application of the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006.
  • EU Law

    Philip advised and appeared on a range of free movement issues. Current work includes Barco de Vapor BV and Others v Thanet District Council, judicial review and High Court damages action concerning  the movement of live animals through UK ports. Past work has included advising or acting in relation to a criminal prosecution for breach of intellectual property rights and the Video Recordings Act 1984; the supply of biomass for electricity generation; and the operation of television broadcasting legislation.

    As regards EU consumer protection law, Philip was seconded to the OFT to work on the investigation of unauthorised overdraft bank charges and has advised the OFT on consumer enforcement work, including Retirement Home Exit Fees. He regularly advises private parties in connection with the application of EU consumer legislation. Clients have included a major mobile network operator, airlines, exam boards and commercial training providers.

    He has also undertaken a wide range of other work with an EC law dimension, including agriculture, freedom of establishment and free movement of persons.

  • Commercial Litigation

    Philip also advises and appears in general commercial litigation.

    Current and recent work includes:

    • Acting for sporting body in dispute with sponsor in a claim for breach of contract;
    • Appearing for sporting body in arbitration concerning alleged age discrimination and breach of contract;
    • Advising online retailer on economic tort claims arising from delisting from online marketplaces;
    • Acting for NHS Trusts defending claim for breach of contract with communications services provider;
    • Acting for mobile network operator in debt recovery.
    • Infinity Distribution Ltd (In Administration) v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2010] EWHC 1393 (Ch); [2010] S.T.C. 2258: appeared in High Court for HMRC in debt claim on preliminary issue concerning rights of set off.
  • Indirect Tax

    Philip appears in both the First-Tier and Upper Tribunals and the Court of Appeal in relation to VAT matters, and previously appeared in the VAT & Duties Tribunal and Chancery Division. He advises frequently on VAT, customs and excise duties issues, particularly where there is a need for specialist EU or human rights expertise.

    Current and recent cases include:

    • Blackburn v HMRC: Appeal relating to the religious exemption from the obligation to file VAT returns online and rights under Article 8 ECHR
    • Bishop and others v HMRC: Appeal relating to compatibility of online filing with taxpayer’s human rights under Articles 8, 14 and Article 1 Protocol 1 ECHR.
    • HMRC v Checkprice (UK) Limited (In Administration): appeared for Defendant in condemnation proceedings in magistrates court in relation to commercial quantities of alcoholic beverages.
    • FJ Chalke Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2009] EWHC 952 (Ch), [2009] S.T.C. 2027; [2010] EWCA Civ 313, [2010] S.T.C. 1640: case concerning right to compound interest in EU law.
    • John Wilkins (Motor Engineers) Ltd v Revenue and Customs Commissioners [2009] UKUT 175 (TCC); [2009] S.T.C. 2485 (first instance); [2010] EWCA Civ 923; [2010] S.T.C. 2418 (appeal on time point); [2011] EWCA Civ 429 (application for reference to ECJ) (ongoing): Appeared for HMRC in leading Tribunal case and further appeals on availability of compound interest under s 78 VATA 1994
    • Grattan PLC v HMRC [2009] STC 882, [2011] UKFTT 31 (TC) (ongoing): appeared for HMRC in Tribunal case on availability of compound interest under s 78 VATA 1994
    • Representing a major charity in partial exemption appeal.
  • What the Directories Say

    Competition Law: “He is excellent, turns work around very quickly and is on top of all the detail.”Chambers UK, 2017

    Telecommunications: “An absolutely fantastic junior who is extremely bright and knowledgeable about telecoms. He works well with a range of QCs.” “He’s very energetic and turns the paperwork around very quickly.”Chambers UK, 2017

    Competition Law: “He is very helpful on procurement issues.” – Chambers UK & Chambers Global, 2016

    Telecommunications: “He has a really good, softly spoken manner which belies his forceful arguments that can be really effective. He’s also quite a considered advocate and people really listen to him.” “Has a great work ethic and is very hands-on.” –  Chambers UK, 2016

    Competition Law: “His advocacy is good, and he has the ability to see through a problem and find a way to solve it.” – Chambers UK, 2015

    Telecommunications: “He has extremely strong knowledge of telecoms, and can give concise advice very quickly.”  – Chambers UK, 2015

    Philip Woolfe is listed as an up & coming Junior in Competition Law: Involved in some high-profile damages claims and abuse of dominance cases, he has recently been doing significant work within the pharmaceutical sector. He is also recognised for his additional expertise in telecoms. “Provides very clear advice and drafting,” he is “highly responsive and extremely clever.” Chambers UK, 2014

    “Philip Woolfe is quickly gaining a strong foothold in the competition law market. Sources comment that “he belies his years in terms of knowledge and experience,” and confirm that he is a “very sharp, affable and dedicated person.” His recent work includes NHS v Reckitt Benckiser, a matter in which the NHS is claiming damages against Reckitt Benckiser following on from the OFT decision to fine the company over its Gaviscon supply policy.” Chambers UK, 2013

  • Publications

    Bellamy and Child’s European Law of Competition (7th edition, OUP 2013) (Chapter on Non-Covert Horizontal Agreements)

    Value Added Tax: Commentary and Analysis (Sweet & Maxwell, 2009) (Chapters on Place of Supply, Chargeable Event, Powers of HMRC

    The Chapter I Prohibition: Is it a Safe Bet? [2010 Comp Law 198 (with Christopher Vajda QC, now Judge of the European Court of Justice).

    The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, The European Advocate (Autumn 2010)

    Regular contributor of Case and Comment articles to De Voils Indirect Tax Intelligence.

  • Additional Information
    • 2004-2005 BCL, Oxford University
    • 2003-2004 BVC at ICSL, Very Competent
    • 2003 Thomas More Scholar, Lincoln’s Inn
    • 2003 Oxford University Wronker Prize for Best Performance in Jurisprudence
    • 2001-2003 BA (Hons) in Law, Brasenose College, Oxford, First Class
    • 1998-2001 BA (Hons) in History, Peterhouse, Cambridge
    • 2000 Senior Lady Margaret Ward Scholar, History, Peterhouse


    Philip speaks French, German and Italian.

    Professional Memberships

    Philip is a committee member of COMBAR and a member of the Competition Law Association, Bar European Group and Procurement Lawyers’ Association.

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