Monckton Chambers’ Josh Holmes is one of seven new star silks interviewed by The Lawyer this year.
Competition and EU expert Josh Holmes was called to the English bar in 1997 after some time working at the European Court of Justice and teaching law at Oxford.
“I like competition law because it’s an opportunity to combine law with economics and it also requires an understanding of business,” Holmes says. “It’s working at the intersection of law, the economy and business.”
His competition practice has seen him advise some of the biggest tech and comms companies in the world, including representing Google on a landmark abuse of dominance case over its Google Maps function, brought by Streetmap.
Holmes was part of the team that convinced Mr Justice Roth that Google Maps is an important innovation and is not anti-competitive, in a ground-breaking and complex competition decision.
He also acted in the latest round of pay-TV cases about regulation of Sky Sports channels, appearing unled in the European courts and the Competition Appeal Tribunal. Holmes had an Ofcom decision upheld that scrapped a ruling forcing Sky to offer sports channels to rivals at a discounted price.
“Clients will bring a big public law silk like David Pannick QC on, but then instruct a junior on the competition angle”
“I’m doing more big trials on my own, so applying to silk seemed the obvious progression,” he says. “Some big clients like the comfort blanket of having a silk on the ticket, so no matter how much a solicitor has confidence in you, they’ll come under pressure to bring a QC in on a major dispute.”
However, competition law has provided a good platform for senior juniors to work on some of the biggest and most complex cases, Holmes believes.
“You notice it when there’s a big public law case that has a smaller competition angle,” he says. “The client will bring a big public law silk like David Pannick QC on, but then instruct a junior on the competition angle. It means I’ve been able to do two- and three-week trials on my own.”
Holmes adds that taking silk has revealed the collegiality of the bar and the legal profession generally.
“You get hundreds of congratulatory emails and notes of support from people you haven’t been in touch with in years, and people you’ve appeared against.”