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Portrait of Brian Sher

Brian Sher

Head of Competition and Trade

CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP
Cannon Place
78 Cannon Street
United Kingdom
Languages English, French

Brian leads the Competition and Trade Team. He is an experienced and trusted competition law adviser, having practised exclusively in the field of EU, UK and international competition law and merger control for over 25 years. 

Brian’s leadership and expertise were acknowledged most recently through winning Legal Business Awards Competition Team of the Year 2020. He has been described as “indefatigable in serving his clients” (Legal 500 United Kingdom: London, Dispute Resolution, Competition Litigation 2022) and “quite exceptional. He is an extremely good lawyer: clever, thoughtful, and he has good business and economic judgement." (Chambers and Partners UK: Competition Law - London 2022). He has long been ranked as a leading individual for competition law in Chambers and Partners and is ranked as a Global Leader in Who’s Who Legal.

Brian advises major international corporates on competition matters in their distribution, pricing, technology licensing and competitor collaboration arrangements. He has deep experience of investigations and inquiries, competition litigation and appeals, and is widely known for his abuse of dominance expertise. He has substantial UK and EU merger control experience, having obtained numerous clearances in Phase 1 and 2 proceedings, both unconditionally and with remedies. He also advises in related areas including foreign direct investment (both the UK National Security & Investment Act and international coordination), digital and utility regulation, state aid and consumer law. Brian‘s experience spans a wide range of industry sectors including technology and media, life sciences and healthcare, energy and infrastructure, transportation, manufacturing, consumer, retail and financial services.

Brian is co-chair of the Joint Working Party of Bars and Law Societies of the UK on Competition Law and a member of the steering committee of the CMS Global Antitrust, Competition and Trade practice. He gained two years‘ management consultancy experience and training prior to becoming a lawyer. He works out of London and Brussels.

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“Brian has really impressed me on the matter we have been working together on for 18 months. His knowledge of competition law and his ability to distil complex facts and provide pragmatic, risk-based advice to clients is impressive. He also commands loyalty from his team and provides an environment in which they can express their views and excel.”

Legal 500 United Kingdom: London, EU and Competition 2022

"He is very good at walking clients through the maze and helping find practical solutions to problems."

Chambers and Partners

Relevant experience

  • BT on its 50:50 joint venture with Warner Bros. Discovery to create a new sports offering for the UK and Ireland, combining BT Sport and Eurosport (CMA phase 1 clearance).
  • Cadent, the UK's largest owner of Gas Distribution Networks, on the RIIO-2 gas distribution price control and its appeal to the CMA (successful on the majority of grounds appealed, 2021).
  • GlaxoSmithKline, the lead party, in the UK's first reverse patent settlement investigation and one of the OFT/CMA's longest and most high profile prohibitive competition law inquiries, and on its appeal to the Competition Appeal Tribunal and (unique) reference to the Court of Justice of the EU (40% reduction in fine and abuse of dominance fine overturned, novel issues at the IP/competition interface, 2021).
  • Cox Automotive and Auto Trader Plc on their joint venture to create Dealer Auction, a leading online auction company for the wholesale remarketing of vehicles (CMA phase 1 unconditional clearance despite high market shares) – for which CMS won Legal Business Awards Competition Team of the Year, 2020.
  • ParentPay, a leading schools payment software provider on its merger with leading management information systems provider Education Software Solutions (cleared unconditionally at phase 1 in 2021 despite significant market shares in adjacent markets).
  • A global pharmaceutical company defending abuse of dominance counterclaims in pan-European trademark infringement litigation.
  • Cox Automotive / sale of its online business to consumer vehicle platform Motors.co.uk to eBay (CMA phase 1 clearance, 2019).
  • Brookfield Renewable on its 50/50 JV with KKR to acquire leading independent solar platform X-Elio.
  • A consortium of investors on the acquisition of Electricity North West.
  • Alliance pharmaceuticals on a CMA competition law investigation.
  • An investor in ground rents on the CMA leasehold investigation (on-going).
  • ThirdWay Interiors on the CMA investigation into design and fit-out of office space (case settled with reduced fines, 2019).
  • Resolution Chemicals on the EU Lundbeck investigation.
  • Brookfield Utilities in a number of Ofcom inquiries.
  • Has co-ordinated numerous international filings and acted for Oracle on the US counsel team in the US Department of Justice litigation against its merger with PeopleSoft (successfully defended).
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Memberships & Roles

  • Solicitor, England and Wales.
  • EU list registered and regulated by the Dutch Brussels Bar.
  • Co-chair of the Joint Working Party of the Bars and Law Societies of the UK on Competition Law.
  • Steering Committee Member, Global Antitrust, Competition and Trade Group, CMS.
  • Member of the Law Society's European Group.
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  • GCR’s IP and Competition (inaugural chapter, with Magnus Wallsten, 2020).
  • International Skating Union General Court hearing: points of interest for the application of EU Competition Law, European Competition Law Review - September 2020.
  • EU excessive drug pricing: Competition law and regulation - Two ways to skin a cat: a paper presented at the ABA 2020 panel ‘Rising drug prices – is antitrust the cure?’, with John Markham.
  • GCR’s Antimonopoly and Unilateral Conduct in the UK (2017 to 2020) with Jacqueline Vallat.
  • The end of the beginning: The CMA’s conclusions on Online Platforms and Digital Advertising, CMS Law Now, with Jacqueline Vallat and Kabir Garyali - June 2020.
  • And the beat goes on…CMA continues crackdown on RPM in the music sector, CMS Law Now, with Shona Murphy -  July 2020.
  • CJEU strengthens suppliers of luxury goods – their third-party platform bans do not violate antitrust law, CMS Law Now, with Markus Schöner, Denis Schlimpert and Annemieke Hazelhoff - December 2017.
  • From the Courtroom to the Opinion: AG Wahl resets the standard for rebates in Intel - October 2016.
  • Keep Calm - Yes; Carry on - No!  A response to Whish on Intel, Journal of European Competition Law and Practice - April 2015.
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Lectures list

  • Annual visiting lecturer on the Kings College, London Competition LLM (in abuse of dominance and rebates) since 2000.
  • Originator and chair of the Informa Connect Pharmaceuticals and Competition Law conference, Brussels, now in its ninth year.
  • Reverse Patent Settlements and the GSK case, Law Society podcast, June 2020.
  • Review of CMA’s recent enforcement actions and market investigations, Informa’s UK Competition Law conference 2020.
  • Frequent chair and speaker at conferences and events in London, Brussels and North America, including IBA and ABA. Part of UK trade delegation to India, speaking on Competition Law, 2010.
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  • 1990 - B.C.L., First Class, Merton College, Oxford University, Oxford.
  • 1989 - M.A. (Law), First Class, Merton College, Oxford University, Oxford.
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Fa­cing the op­por­tun­it­ies and chal­lenges of a vi­brant life sci­ences sec­tor
Di­git­al ad­vances and in­nov­at­ive ther­apies are push­ing the bound­ar­ies of health and the leg­al world has to keep paceLife sci­ences are fizz­ing with in­genu­ity and in­nov­a­tion with re­volu­tion­ary gene and cell drug dis­cov­ery and di­git­al ad­vances push­ing the fron­ti­ers of glob­al health­care.But the trans­form­at­ive prom­ise is freighted with com­plex con­cerns over sus­tain­ab­il­ity, af­ford­ab­il­ity, di­git­al se­cur­ity, con­tracts and IP own­er­ship. The is­sues range from sci­entif­ic tech­nic­al­it­ies to ex­ist­en­tial and eth­ic­al ques­tions over Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence’s abil­ity to gen­er­ate ap­proaches free from hu­man hand.The chan­ging land­scape was brought in­to fo­cus at the CMS Glob­al Life Sci­ences and Health­care For­um 2022 where ex­perts high­lighted the chal­lenges and ex­plored guid­ing prin­ciples.The pan­el, chaired by CMS Lon­don part­ner Louise Boswell, heard that cur­rent eco­nom­ic pres­sures and geo-polit­ic­al shock­waves are ra­di­at­ing across busi­ness per­form­ance and sup­ply chains, which are cru­cial to com­mer­cial vi­ab­il­ity and the land­scape is be­ing fur­ther stressed by am­bi­tious goals to re­duce car­bon emis­sions.Laeti­tia Sz­a­ller, Gen­er­al Coun­sel & VP Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment at AM Pharma, told del­eg­ates that a new prag­mat­ism was needed when ne­go­ti­at­ing col­lab­or­a­tions with part­ner com­pan­ies and she em­phas­ised the need to cre­ate con­tracts with sup­pli­ers that are flex­ible enough to weath­er storms and pro­tect all parties from cur­rent and fu­ture pres­sures.“The real­ity is that you have to find a solu­tion,” she said. “It will come down to how do we share the risk and how do we share bur­den? Hav­ing your part­ner bleed out is not go­ing to be lead­ing to a happy end­ing.”The pan­dem­ic, the Rus­si­an in­va­sion of Ukraine have caused un­pre­ced­en­ted tur­bu­lence across sup­ply chains and Sz­a­ller ad­voc­ated for all stake­hold­ers to be in­volved in early stage dis­cus­sions to avoid the time and cost risk of chan­ging sup­ply chain part­ners be­cause of in­flex­ible agree­ments.The CMS Tech­no­logy Trans­form­a­tion: Man­aging Risks in a Chan­ging Land­scape re­port found that 56% of cor­por­ate coun­sel and risk man­agers sur­veyed were ex­pect­ing a rise in dis­putes in­volving AI over the next few years.The pan­el ses­sion also got valu­able in­sights in­to the com­plex­it­ies and dif­fi­culties of build­ing AI sys­tems in life sci­ences – the glob­al sec­tor is fore­cast to grow at 20% CAGR between 2022 and 2030 – from An­ita Prin­zie, Product Man­ager, Om­nia Tech­no­lo­gies Ma­chine Learn­ing.“We try to face the risks head on.” she com­men­ted. “We want to tap in­to the op­por­tun­it­ies to build valu­able di­git­al health apps that will sup­port much more per­son­al­ised ex­per­i­ences, which we all ac­tu­ally want.“There is more health data – just like we have in the re­tail sec­tor - but this data is very per­son­al. It's your per­son­al health data. So, when com­pan­ies ask us to help per­son­al­ise those health ex­per­i­ences, it is a yes but we have to look at the risks. We can­not jump for joy and just ap­ply whatever al­gorithm from the shelf.“It is very dif­fi­cult and is not only an AI prob­lem but an AI risk man­age­ment prob­lem.”She ad­ded that reg­u­la­tions over pri­vacy and data pro­tec­tion var­ied across coun­tries so the com­pany cre­ated core pro­grammes that can be amended for dif­fer­ent na­tions rather than con­struct new sys­tems for each coun­try.The pan­el, which in­cluded CMS part­ners Bri­an Sher and Tom De Cordi­er, dis­cussed a range of is­sues such as li­cens­ing agree­ments in a chan­ging en­vir­on­ment, in­clud­ing the freshly-min­ted sec­tor of col­lab­or­a­tions based on early stage in­nov­a­tion and re­search, ‘killer ac­quis­i­tions’, com­pet­i­tion law, reg­u­lat­ory com­plex­it­ies and IP rights.Nick Beck­ett, Glob­al Co-Head of CMS Life Sci­ences & Health­care Sec­tor Group, ob­served: “Ad­vances are com­ing thick and fast in life sci­ences so we need to make sure the leg­al sec­tor can re­spond pos­it­ively to en­sure that new tech­no­lo­gies and ther­apies get to the people that need them most.“Shar­ing sec­tor in­tel­li­gence and ex­per­i­ence is key to un­der­stand where fric­tion points arise and al­lows us to find solu­tions that em­power the sec­tor.“The en­tire CMS For­um was full of in­sights and know­ledge and we are com­mit­ted to util­ising best prac­tice and in­nov­at­ive ap­proaches to get the best for our life sci­ences and health­care cli­ents.”
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