Rob is a highly experienced barrister and advocate practicing in competition law, procurement law, public law and other regulatory litigation. He acts for the range of commercial and public sector clients, and has been described in the Legal Directories as:
- “a first class brain, very strategic, very commercial”
- “a joy to work with”
- “strong in court”
- “truly outstanding: super clever, brilliant drafting and outstanding judgement”
- “extremely talented, approachable and diligent”
- “a star junior”
- “an encyclopaedic mind”
- “unimpeachable analytical skills” and
- “one of those barristers who actually seems to care about what the outcome is and works really hard to get you where you need to be”.
Since 2015, Rob has been Standing Counsel to the Competition and Markets Authority.
Before taking silk, Rob was awarded Competition Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards in both 2019 and 2017. He was nominated for the same award at the Legal 500 UK Awards in 2018. Rob is recommended by the Directories in Band 1 in in his main practice areas.
Rob’s work is principally divided between the High Court and the Competition Appeal Tribunal, and he appears frequently in the appellate courts. Rob has appeared in many of the leading cases in competition and public procurement law.
Before joining Monckton Chambers, Rob worked as an in-house advocate at a large City law firm. His experience has given him a particular insight into the needs of both solicitor and lay clients at all stages of the litigation process, and as a result, Rob places particular importance on being user friendly and accessible.
Rob is recommended as a leading junior in competition law in both the Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners. In 2019 and 2017, Rob was awarded Competition Junior of the Year at the Chambers UK Bar Awards. Since 2015, Rob has been Standing Counsel to the Competition and Markets Authority. He has been involved in many of the leading competition law cases over the last decade, spanning the full range of competition law work.
Examples of Rob’s work include:
- Foreign Exchange (acting for JP Morgan in individual damages claims and proposed class actions).
- Smart Chips (acting for Gemalto in follow-on damages claim).
- Trucks (acting for DAF in individual damages claims and proposed class action).
- Tesco Stores Ltd and Ors v MasterCard, Tesco Stores Ltd and Ors v Visa (standalone damages claims relating to interchange fees; 2014-2016).
- iiyama v Schott and Ors (follow-on damages claims relating to Cathode Ray Tube Glass; acted for Schott on successful strike out application; 2015-2016).
- Deutsche Bahn AG and others v Morgan Crucible v Others (follow-on damages claim arising from the carbon cartel; acted for the Claimants in the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court 2009-2013).
- WH Newson v IMI Plc and Ors (damages claims and contribution proceedings arising from copper tubes and fittings cartels; 2011-2016; succeeded twice in Court of Appeal 2013 and 2016).
- Sony v AUO Optronics and Ors (damages claim arising from LCD cartel; 2013).
- Enron Coal Service Limited v EWS Railway Limited (damages action arising from price discrimination in rail services; first “follow-on” claim to reach trial in CAT; 2009).
Competition Act enforcement work:
As Standing Counsel to the CMA, Rob is currently advising the CMA on a number of ongoing anti-trust investigations. His prior experience includes:
- Balmoral Tanks v CMA (successfully defended the CMA’s information exchange infringement decision in the CAT and Court of Appeal; 2017-2019).
- Advanz Pharma v CMA (JR challenge to CMA’s procedure in Competition Act investigation; 2019).
- CMA v Concordia International Rx (UK Ltd) (successfully resisted the first challenge to a warrant granted under the Competition Act 1998; succeeded on preliminary issue in Court of Appeal; 2017-2019).
- Advised OFT on Hotel Online Bookings (2014).
- Acted for OFT in Tobacco appeals (2011).
- Advised OFT on Reckitt Benckiser – Gaviscon (2011).
- Advised OFT on RBS / Barclays – loans for professional services (2011).
- Acted for a party to the OFT’s construction bid rigging investigation (2009).
Rob has acted on many of the most high-profile merger decisions and challenges in recent years, including:
- J Sainsbury / Asda (procedural fairness challenge in CAT 2018).
- 21st Century Fox/Sky (2017-2018).
- Three/O2 (acting for the UK in the General Court proceedings brought by CK Telecoms 2017).
- BT/EE (2015-2016).
- Muller/Dairy Crest (2015).
- Ryanair v CMA/Competition Commission (judicial review of final decision in CAT 2014; Court of Appeal 2015; challenge to material change of circumstance decision; in CAT 2015).
- SCOP v CMA, Groupe Eurotunnel v Competition Commission (judicial review concerning merger jurisdiction; CAT 2013 and 2014, Court of Appeal 2015).
- Akzo Nobel NV v Competition Commission (judicial review of merger decision; CAT 2013; Court of Appeal 2014).
- Sky v Competition Commission; Virgin Media v Competition Commission (judicial review on competition and media plurality issues; CAT 2008; Court of Appeal 2010).
- CTS Eventim v Competition Commission (judicial review of merger decision; CAT 2010).
Rob has advised on many of the market investigations carried out since the Enterprise Act 2002 was established, including the following:
- Energy Market Investigation.
- Lafarge Tarmac v Competition Commission (judicial review of Aggregates, Cement and RMX final report; CAT 2013-2014).
- HCA v CMA; AXA v CMA; FIPO v CMA (judicial review of Private Healthcare final report in CAT; 2013-2014).
- BMI and Ors v Competition Commission (judicial review of data room arrangements in Private Healthcare market investigation; 2013).
- Advised on Pay TV Movies investigation (2012).
- 23 Dec 2020Major New Judgment on Competition Act penalties – Success for Rob Williams QC and the CMA
- 12 May 2020Court of Appeal rules on approach to costs in Competition Act appeals
- 22 Apr 2020Rob Williams QC and Ben Lask successfully defend CMA decision in Ecolab merger
- 15 Feb 2019Court of Appeal upholds Galvanised Steel Tanks Information Exchange
- 29 Jan 2019Court of Appeal rules on temporal scope of EU competition law
- 16 Jan 2019Concordia warrant challenge is dismissed
Rob is recommended as a Band 1 leading junior for Public Procurement Law. He has been described as “a standout junior in high demand for the most high-profile challenges”, “technically superb” and “very user friendly”. Rob advises public authorities, utilities and contractors on a variety of contentious and non-contentious matters concerning both the public sector and utilities rules. He has taught public procurement law at Kings College London.
Rob’s current and recent major cases include:
- Rail Franchising challenges 2019 (acting for successful tenderer Govia).
- Alstom, Hitachi and Bombardier v LUL (acted for successful tenderer Siemens on Deep Tube rollick stock challenges; 2018).
- Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust v Lancashire County Council (acted for successful Claimant in challenge to procurement for public health nursing services; 2017-2018).
- Virgin Care Services Limited v NHS Guilford and Waverley CCG and Ors (challenge to procurement of children’s services in Surrey; 2017-2018).
- Airwave Solutions Ltd v Secretary of State for the Home Dept (procurement of a mobile communications network for the emergency services; 2015-2016).
- NATS v Gatwick Airport Ltd (procurement of air traffic control contract; 2014).
- ABP v MoD (Marchwood port concession; acted for successful bidder SGL; 2015).
- Grifols v NHSBT (procurement of blood testing equipment (2014-2015).
- NP Aerospace v MoD (conversion of military vehicles; lifted suspension and third party disclosure; 2014).
- RMT v DfT (judicial review of award of rail franchise contracts; 2014).
- Pearson Driving Assessments Limited v Minister for Cabinet Office (acted for successful bidder LearnDirect; 2013).
- Alstom Transport v (1) Eurostar (2) Siemens (acted for Siemens; successfully resisted Alstom’s application for interim relief and struck out claim for ineffectiveness; 2010-2011).
- Newcastle upon Tyne Hospital NHS Foundation Trust v Newcastle Primary Care Trust (successful application to lift suspension under regulation 47G; 2012).
- Chigwell (Shepherd’s Bush) Ltd v LHA ASRA (successful application to lift suspension; 2012).
- BY Development Ltd v Covent Garden Market Authority (acted for successful bidder; 2012).
- Mouchel Limited v City of Westminster (claim for damages arising from procurement of parking and related services; 2011).
- Partenaire Limited v Department for Finance and Personnel (procurement concerning the management and refurbishment of the office estate of the Northern Ireland Civil Service; 2008).
- Lion Apparel Systems Ltd v Firebuy Ltd (acted for Firebuy in both injunction and damages proceedings; 2007-2008).
- 17 Jun 2020Rail Franchise Litigation 2019 – Stagecoach and West Coast challenges dismissed
- 08 Nov 2018Suspension lifted in Deep Tube Procurement claims
- 22 Jun 2018Award of Lancashire Children’s Services Contract to Virgin Care Set Aside
- 08 Feb 2018High Court rules that damages are inadequate for NHS claimants
Rob has a significant experience in relation to telecoms regulation. He has acted in relation to numerous appeals to the CAT and CC in relation to price control and other matters, and advised on a number of Ofcom’s market reviews.
His case work includes:
- Three/O2 merger (acting for the UK in the General Court proceedings brought by CK Telecoms).
- BT/EE merger.
- Fixed Access Market Review and Charge Controls, Wholesale Broadband Access Market Review and Charge Control 2014.
- BT v Ofcom; Sky and Talk Talk v Ofcom (appeals against LLU and WLR Charge Control decision, 2012).
- BT v Ofcom (appeal against WBA Charge Control decision concerning BT’s pensions deficient repair payments).
- Everything Everywhere v Ofcom (appeal to CAT concerning Ofcom’s decision on a dispute involving Stour Marine network).
- Carphone Warehouse v Ofcom (appeals against LLU and WLR Charge Control, 2009).
- T Mobile and O2 v Ofcom (Administrative Court proceedings concerning auction of 2.6GHz band of spectrum).
Commercial and consumer regulation
Rob has wide experience of commercial and consumer regulatory matters across a range of industry sectors. He advises the CMA on the enforcement of consumer protection legislation.
Specific matters include:
- CMA v viagogo AG (proceedings to enforce UK and EU consumer protection legislation in the secondary ticketing sector; 2018-2019).
- Firmus Energy v Utility Regulator (licence modification appeal to CMA concerning gas distribution in Northern Ireland).
- Advising the Civil Aviation Authority in connection with complaints under section 41 of the Airports Act 1986.
- Advising a party to a regulatory investigation conducted by Ofwat.
- Advising Ofgem in connection with issues arising under European legislation.
- Advising the Office of Rail Regulation in connection with DfT’s application for a track access option for the Crossrail project, and more recently in relation to the application of the Railways Infrastructure (Access and Management) Regulations 2005.
- Advising Postcomm on issues arising under the Postal Services Directive and the Postal Services Act 2000.
- E.ON UK Plc v Gas and Electricity Markets Association (Competition Commission decision on the first Energy Code Appeal under the Energy Act 2004).
- Advising an international bank in relation to the OFT’s inquiry into unfair terms in credit card agreements (default fees).
- Advising Ofwat on the regulatory aspects of a potential new infrastructure project.
- Acting for the Financial Services Compensation Scheme in relation to claims against product providers arising out of the mis-selling of retail investments.
What the directories say
Competition Law: “He’s excellent with clients, very thoughtful and responsive, and really is everything you would want from a competition silk.” “He is going to be a superstar.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2021
Public Procurement: “Clients praise his ability to provide clear advice in often uncertain areas of law.” “He’s practical in his approach, commercial, down to earth and user-friendly.” – Chambers UK, 2021
New Silk in Competition: “He is hugely intelligent and also realistic.” – Legal 500, 2021
New Silk in Public procurement: ‘‘A measured, sensible, lovely advocate. Excellent judgement and also a voice of reason in the room.’’ – Legal 500, 2021
“An “insightful advocate” who is “commercially switched on” and “works exceptionally well as part of a team”. He has considerable experience in damages claims, mergers and enforcement matters”.– Competition, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2020
“Hailed as “a great barrister” and “a go-to counsel for public procurement work”. – Government Contracts, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2020
Competition Law: “Displays excellent attention to detail, is robust in his advice and is strong in court.” “He gets on top of quite complex factual legal situations very quickly, is hands-on and is easy to work with.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2020
Public Procurement: “He has a first-class brain and is very strategic and very commercial.” “He is brilliant, super pragmatic and gives really good, commercial advice.” “Rob is exceptionally effective at identifying the key issues in a matter early on and giving clients clear and appropriate advice, not just on the legal issues but on a wider strategic level.” – Chambers UK, 2020
Leading junior in Competition: “He always gets to the root of the issue.” – Legal 500, 2020
Leading junior in Public procurement: ‘‘One of the top four juniors for procurement.’’ – Legal 500, 2020
“Distinguished as one of the leading competition juniors at the Bar. He is described as “insightful, approachable, thorough and a joy to work with” – Competition, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2019
“Extremely knowledgeable” government contracts junior who stands out for his excellent work advising contractors, public authorities and utilities companies” – Government Contracts, Who’s Who Legal UK Bar 2019
Competition Law: “Very user-friendly, responsive and hard-working.” “He is very committed to the case and really cares about getting the right result.” – Chambers UK and Chambers Global, 2019
Public Procurement: “Commercial, down-to-earth and very user-friendly, he takes a very practical approach to the law.” “A really impressive and hard-working senior junior with an excellent eye for detail.” – Chambers UK, 2019
Leading junior in Competition: ‘‘A truly outstanding senior junior: super clever, brilliant drafting and outstanding judgement.’’ – Legal 500, 2018
Leading junior in Public procurement: ‘‘He is very impressive both in his written advice and in conference.’’ – Legal 500, 2018
Competition Law: “He is very user-friendly with a very inclusive approach and he delivers focused advice.” – Chambers UK, 2018
Public Procurement: “He takes a down-to-earth and pragmatic approach and can be relied on to defuse heated situations.” – Chambers UK, 2018
Leading junior in Competition: ‘‘An extremely talented, approachable and diligent lawyer, who works well under pressure.’’ – Legal 500, 2017
Leading junior in Public procurement: ‘‘A standout junior in high demand for the most high-profile challenges.’’ – Legal 500, 2017
Competition Law: “He is a first-class competition law junior who is good at drafting, very user-friendly and good with clients.” – Chambers UK, 2017
Public Procurement: “He’s one of those barristers who actually seems to care about what the outcome is and works really hard to get you where you need to be.” – Chambers UK, 2017
Leading Junior in EU and Competition: ‘‘A strong junior with a razor-sharp intellect.’’ – Legal 500, 2016
Leading Junior in Public Procurement: ‘‘A filing cabinet of a brain for procurement case law.’’ – Legal 500, 2016
Competition: Receives strong praise for his “pervasive commercial insight and intelligence”. He has been involved with several notable damages claims and judicial reviews before the commission. – WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL) UK BAR 2016
Government Contracts: Stands out as “a star junior”, who is often instructed to act on high-profile procurement cases. He is described as “technically superb” and “very user-friendly”. – WHO’S WHO LEGAL (WWL) UK BAR 2016
Competition Law: “His pleadings and skeleton arguments are particularly good.” – Chambers UK & Chambers Global, 2016
Public Procurement: “He inspires confidence as he demonstrates a clear depth of knowledge and has an instinctual feel for this kind of work. He is a go-to junior if you need a creative solution to a new problem.” – Chambers UK, 2016
”Hugely enthusiastic and responsive; a great team player.” Leading Junior in EU and Competition Law. Legal 500, 2015
”Pragmatic and thorough.” Leading Junior in Public Procurement Law. Legal 500, 2015
Competition Law: “A joy to work with, he’s extremely accessible and easy to get hold of despite being in high demand.” “I have been really pleased how he has got stuck into the issues.” – Chambers UK, 2015
Public Procurement: “He’s very knowledgeable on his subject and a good team player, who is very easy to work with.” “Very sensible and pragmatic in his advice, he gives a credible and clear view on the merits of a case.” – Chambers UK, 2015
‘He is experienced in both the High Court and the Competition Appeal Tribunal.’ Rob is recommended as a leading Junior in EU & Competition Law. Legal 500, 2014
‘Fast becoming an encyclopaedic mind on procurement case law.’ Rob is recommended as a leading Junior in Public Procurement Law. Legal 500, 2014
“Truly outstanding” Rob Williams regularly acts for central government and specialises in procurement-related matters in the energy and transport sectors. Who’s Who Legal 2014
Under Competition Law: Singled out for his practical approach to competition issues. Frequently instructed by the main competition authorities including the OFT and the Competition Commission. His background in commercial litigation also attracts significant damages work. “His ability to quickly grasp immense amounts of detail and his unimpeachable analytical skills enable him to provide advice that is relevant and of great value.“ Chambers UK, 2014
Under Public Procurement: Has been instructed in a number of landmark cases, working in tandem with silks, and has also appeared in matters unled. He is a popular choice for public and utilities clients, as well as City law firms. “His calibre and the impression he gives clients are beyond his years of call. He’s very bright but not stuffy.” Chambers UK, 2014
“Rob Williams is a leading figure in damages actions.” He is recommended as a leading Junior in EU & Competition Law. Legal 500, 2013
“Rob Williams is ‘very effective on his feet and in conference’,” he is recommended under Public Procurement Law as a leading Junior. Legal 500, 2013
“Rob Williams is well known for his tenacity when handling public procurement work. Testament to his standing, he was involved in the signature case of the past year, Alstom Transport v Eurostar International Limited and Siemens plc.” Chambers UK, 2013
Under Competition / European Law: “”Thorough, practical and user-friendly,” Rob Williams is steadily increasing in market prominence, and has respected public law, commercial and regulatory expertise. His “unimpeachable analytical skills” were particularly highlighted by sources, as was his “ability to think creatively about new issues.” He recently advised the OFT with regard to the investigation it undertook into Reckitt Benckiser and its Gaviscon product.” Chambers UK, 2013
“Rob Williams has had a busy year, being involved in the high-profile case of Alstom v Eurostar Project and also acting for Mehler in a successful challenge concerning the procurement of armoured vests by the Metropolitan Police. He is “an excellent analyst and a sensible advocate who always has his feet on the ground,” say commentators.” – Chambers UK, 2012
Recommended in Public Procurement Law, “Rob Williams wins support in the market as “a fine procurement lawyer who is very approachable and great to work with.” He recently acted for the Home Office in relation to a challenge brought by 3M to a procurement concerning the production of the new biometric e-passport.” – Chambers UK, 2011
Rob has a first class law degree and a postgraduate BCL degree from University College, Oxford. On graduating, he worked as a research assistant to the Law Commission for two years, following which he was awarded a Jules Thorn Scholarship by Middle Temple.
In 2000, Rob was called to the Bar and started his career at Keating Chambers. After a number of years in practice, he joined Denton Wilde Sapte’s Advocacy Group, the first and longest established “in-house chambers” in the City. He joined Monckton Chambers in 2006.
Rob has taught public procurement law at Kings College London with Michael Bowsher QC. He has previously been a tutor in law at University College, London.
In 2002, Rob was the judicial assistant to Lord Phillips MR (as he then was).
Rob is a contributor to Bellamy and Child.
Rob is a member of the Bar European Group, ALBA and the Procurement Lawyer’s Association.