A small set with a high profile, the experienced barristers at 11 South Square take a dual-pronged approach, acting for major clients involved in intellectual property disputes concerning the very fundamentals of telecoms networks. In the Court of Appeal case IPCom v Vodafone, Michael Silverleaf QC appeared on behalf of the Secretary of State for Defence, who sought to intervene in the appeal, as the first instance judge found the usage of a patent of a method to give emergency responders priority access to its fell within the provisions of the Patents Act 1977, and would make the Crown liable for compensation. In Facebook v Voxer, a patent revocation action sought by Facebook of a live telecommunications messaging patent, he is opposed by Brian Nicholson QC, acting for the defendant.
IT and telecoms in London Bar
‘The leading set for technology and telecoms disputes’, the barristers at 4 Pump Court advise regulators, users, providers, and insurers involved in high-value technology disputes. Alex Charlton QC acted for the claimant in the high-profile IT dispute case CIS General Insurance Ltd v IBM, a £132m claim which arose out of a failed implementation of new enterprise-wide systems. He was opposed by Nigel Tozzi QC, Iain Munro, and Matthew Lavy, who is also acting for the company Oak Smart in Facebook v Oak Smart and others, in which the defendants are accused of scraping Facebook data and selling it to advertisers. In addition, in J6 Ltd v Prosper Procurement Ltd, Michael Douglas QC acted as sole counsel for the defendant in a dispute between a social landlord consortium and an IT provider about the quality of a procured software system.
‘4 Pump Court barristers, silks and juniors, continue to lead the London Bar in relation to technology, telecoms and software disputes.’
‘Overall 4 Pump Court remain the go-to chambers for IT/outsourcing disputes (for example the recent Co-op and IBM case was mostly staffed with 4 Pump Court barristers on both sides).’
‘I consider 4 Pump Court to be the leading set for technology and telecoms disputes. They have expertise at all levels.’
‘4 Pump Court is my go-to set for IT/Tech disputes.’
‘We use 4PC for IT/Media work – in terms of the defence of IT professionals they are our first port of call. We are looking to use them beyond this in the defence of more traditional professionals.’
‘Very well managed by Stewart Gibbs. They take a commercial approach and (in my experience) seek to form strong relationships with solicitors.’
‘Bill Griffiths is always helpful and prompt in providing suggestions for counsel and quotations for work. He has a good rapport with our firm.’
‘Excellent support by the clerks.’
‘The clerks are engaging and want to work with you. They are understanding of the challenges that can be posed by working with insurers and work to make our life easier.’
‘Very responsive and flexible.’
The members of 'excellent set' 8 New Square act for ISPs, technology companies, and broadcasters involved in telecoms disputes, cases involving FRAND licensing determinations, and issues arising from breaches of data protection. In Optis Cellular Technology LLC v Apple Retail, Adrian Speck QC and Mark Chacksfield QC successfully brought a patent validity and infringement claim against Apple, with the potential for a highly lucrative FRAND determination. In Microsoft Corp v Khan, Jaani Riordan acted for Microsoft in a claim to uncover sources of counterfeit and grey import product keys for the company’s software products. Jonathan Hill is representing Jaguar Land Rover in Jaguar Land Rover v Haynespro, in a claim concerning allegedly unauthorised access by the defendant to repair information from Jaguar’s database.
‘Excellent and friendly.’
A ‘first port of call for IT contract disputes,’ the set at Atkin Chambers acts in high-profile IT and communications project disputes in the construction, banking, and financial services sectors, dovetailing well with the set’s well-known area of expertise in construction projects. James Howells QC was lead counsel for the latter party, the appellant, Triple Point Technology v PTT Public Company, in which the Supreme Court considered the issue of liquidated damages for delay when contracts are terminated, in the context of the procurement of an IT system by a Thai energy company. Patrick Clarke acted for the claimant in Competent Adviser Limited v Forfront Limited, which concerned a claim for injunctions, declarations, and damages related to a long-term agreement for software, development, and website hosting support and maintenance services. David Streatfeild-James QC also handles in cases pertaining to IT infrastructure.
‘My first port of call for IT contract disputes.’
‘Good clerks. Matthew Ashman is very helpful.’
‘Excellent clerks, very helpful.’
The ‘go-to set for public law or IT & telecoms regulatory-related matters’, the barristers at Blackstone Chambers remain leaders in acting for major communications operators and consumers, and for against regulators such as Ofcom. Before the UK Supreme Court, in the FRAND case Unwired Planet & Conversant v Huawei & ZTE, James Segan QC acted for Huawei and successfully defended against a claim brought by Conversant, a licensing entity connected to Nokia. In Virgin Media Limited v Ofcom, Javan Herberg QC represented Ofcom in dismissing an appeal brought by Virgin Media against Ofcom’s decision to impose a £7m fine for breaching the General Conditions of Entitlement. In addition, Brian Kennelly QC acted for CK Telecoms UK Investments in CK Telecoms UK Investments Ltd v European Commission, where the court annulled the Commission’s decision to block CK Hutchison’s acquisition of O2 UK from Spain’s Telefonica.
‘Everyone I have ever worked with at Blackstone has been extremely impressive.’
‘Go-to set for public law or IT & telecoms regulatory-related matters; strength in depth across QCs and junior counsel.’
‘The go-to set for public law or IT & telecoms regulatory matters.’
‘I cannot praise Lewis Walker highly enough. He is efficient, responsive, and dogged in his determination to get you what you need, but also thoroughly charming and a pleasure to work with. He is everything you are looking for in a Practice Manager.’
‘Clerks are responsive and easy to work with.’
‘Very user-friendly and responsive.’
‘User-friendly; responsive; commercial on fees.’
Acting in both regulatory and non-regulatory matters, the set at Devereux represents telecommunications providers through disputes, IT cases, ECC issues, and regulatory appeals. Graham Read QC acts for the claimant in the High Court case Openreach Limited v TalkTalk Communications Limited, in which Openreach/BT seeks £16m of allegedly withheld payments for electronic communications services provided to TalkTalk, who is counterclaiming for allegedly owed service level guarantee payments. He acted with Rory Cochrane for BT in 24Seven Communications Limited v British Telecommunications PLC, a case that concerned 24Seven’s alleged creation of artificial traffic under BT’s industry-wide standard interconnect agreement, and a claim by 24 Seven for allegedly unpaid charges generated by the traffic in question. Georgina Hirsch was instructed solo by the Communications Commission in a case regarding a tender for Isle of Man Government Technology Services, which was related to a competitor telecom’s complaint that a dominant provider’s bid created market squeeze and price discrimination. In Amadeo v British Telecommunications Plc, Shaen Catherwood acts for BT, which involves a claim for alleged damage to a brick retaining wall caused by independent sub-contractors.
‘Always professional and helpful. I cannot comment on any particular clerk, but the standard of organisation and the degree to which they were willing to help and to be pleasant and friendly was evident.’
‘Involved in almost all the big cases in this area’, Monckton Chambers includes members who act for top content providers, mobile and fixed-line telecommunications companies, broadcasters, and Ofcom. Daniel Beard QC acted for the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office in Privacy International v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in which the CJEU deliberated whether national security laws used by the UK, France, and Belgium requiring the retention of bulk data by telecoms were in contravention of EU law. He was joined by Robert Palmer QC, who continues to act for MI5, MI6, and GCHQ. In Vodafone and TalkTalk v Ofcom, Josh Holmes QC successfully defended Ofcom in an appeal challenging its new regulatory package for business data connections in the UK.
‘One of the two top competition chambers; Monckton has made efforts in recent years to expand its general commercial offering, which seems to be bearing fruit.’
‘Exceptionally strong in IT/Telecoms. Involved in almost all the big cases in this area.’
‘Clerks room and reception are excellent. Stephen Duffett always responds promptly and effectively.’
‘Responsive, great at listing appointments, practical.’
‘A good IP set with strength in depth in the field’, the barristers at Three New Square act in telecoms and IT infringement actions for major technology multinationals, software developers, and digital service providers. Miles Copeland successfully defended Huawei in the Court of Appeal case Conversant v Huawei, which involved allegations of mobile patent infringement and issues of FRAND licence terms. He was opposed by Thomas Hinchliffe QC. Joe Delaney acts for InterDigital in InterDigital v Lenovo & Motorola, a FRAND dispute with the defendants related to 3G and 4G technology. In addition, Guy Burkill QC successfully acted for Apple in the high-profile telecoms patent dispute case Optis v Apple.
‘3 New Square are a good IP set with strength in depth in the field.’
‘The Three New Square set is possibly the best overall in IP. It has a good range of capable barristers, thus providing strength in depth.’
‘The clerking service is exceptionally good. The clerks are very approachable and helpful. Nick Hill is in charge and I always find him willing to guide me and to provide prompt assistance. He never fails to help with issues in a good humoured way. I would also single out Tim Fairburn, who follows Nick’s lead in providing responsive and courteous assistance.’
‘The clerks at 3 New Square are wonderful. Senior Clerk Nick Hill leads the team and is both charming and wonderfully efficient – always a pleasure to work with he will solve whatever issue, listing or otherwise, which is troubling you. He is ably supported by a great team, including junior clerk Georgia Onyett who is fast learning the clerking ropes, and the whole organisation is supported by the wonderful Zena Robbins who makes all of your administrative matters run smoothly.’