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Portrait of Chris Watson

Chris Watson

Global Head of TMC

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

Chris Watson is one of the world’s leading communications law experts. He is Global Head of the CMS Technology, Media and Communications group and leads an international team of over 300 lawyers.
He focuses on international commercial matters in TMC, particularly in areas where competition and regulation overlap, and on EU law arising in cross-border and complex transactions.
Chris is included as one of a handful of “Global Elite Thought Leaders” in Who’s Who Legal: Data 2020. His recognition as a Who’s Who Legal “Global Leader” in the categories of Data - Information Technology, and Data - Telecoms & Media also goes back for several years.
Chris is described by clients and contacts as "exceptionally bright", boasting an "amazingly international practice". Sources told Chambers and Partners: "He is very knowledgeable on telecoms regulation and competition law, and one of the nicest people you could ever meet."
He also has extensive experience in other regulated network sectors such as postal, electricity and other utilities and as well as broad experience on commercial, corporate, and financial matters.  
Chris is a sought after speaker and is frequently quoted in the media. He is a past member of the governing Council of the International Bar Association (IBA), chair of its Diversity Council and a past chairman of the Communications Law Committee. Chris's memberships also include Supreme Court of England and Wales, and the Paris Bar. 

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Recognised as a "Global Elite Thought Leader".

Who’s Who Legal, 2020

Relevant experience

  • The World Bank on drafting, analysing and explaining the value of digital identity legislation and programmes for several African countries.
  • HP Inc. on the $1bn+ purchase of Samsung’s global printer business.
  • Liberty Global on the sale of its direct-to-home satellite TV operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia to M7 Group.
  • CityFibre, the UK’s largest alternative provider of wholesale fibre network infrastructure, on a partnership with Vodafone to deliver ultra-fast Gigabit-capable full fibre broadband to up to 5 million homes and businesses across the UK by 2025.
  • Apollo Global Management on the European aspects of its acquisition of Phoenix Services International, LLC, a leading global provider of industrial technology services to steel mills.
  • Bahraini Telecommunications Regulatory Authority on regulatory issues regarding their National Broadband Network.
  • Cinven LLP on its bid to acquire a controlling stake in Telekom Slovenije.
  • The World Bank in relation to reform of the Lebanese telecommunications law, including drafting the new Law and Decrees in English and in French.
  • Macquarie Communications Infrastructure Group on the acquisition of NTL’s broadcast business for a purchase price of GBP 1.27bn.
  • T-Mobile/One2One in relation to the inquiry by Oftel and the Competition Commission into the charges made by UK mobile operators for call termination.
  • National Grid on the replacement of its electricity operational telecommunications assets.
  • KPNQwest on the rollout of its pan-European network (including property, IT procurement and issues relating to co-ordination with other operators) and drafting sales contracts for sale of fibre, capacity and services on the network.
  • The Communications and Information Technology Commission, the Saudi Arabian telecommunications regulator, on the successful auction of a second GSM licence and, separately, of voice and data licences for a global consideration of USD 3.5bn.
  • The Office of the Telecommunications Authority in Hong Kong on the 3G licensing process.
  • The Jordan Telecommunications Regulatory Commission on the implementation of a new licensing/regulatory system.
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Memberships & Roles

  • Council Member, International Bar Association
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Lectures list

  • Speaker, Total Telecom Congress, London – 2019
  • Panelist, FT-ETNO Summit, A future model for broadband networks, Brussels - 2018
  • Speaker, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Digital Identity in a New Era of Data Protection, Geneva – 2018
  • Panelist, ECTA Regulatory Summit, Brussels – 2016
  • Panelist, Interlaw Diversity Forum, International Women's Day: Pledge for Parity, London - 2016
  • Speaker, Cyprus Office of Electronic Communications & Postal Regulations Stakeholder meeting – 2015
  • Speaker, American Bar Association Spring Meeting, San Francisco – 2015
  • Speaker, International Bar Association conference, Vienna – 2015
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  • MA Modern Languages, New College, Oxford
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Show only
04 March 2021
The Mo­bile Cen­tury 2021: The Fu­ture Re­ima­gined
Presen­ted by: CMS is de­lighted to be sup­port­ing the Glob­al Tele­com Wo­men’s Net­work (GT­WN) as spon­sor of the pub­lic­a­tion of its an­nu­al magazine, The Mo­bile Cen­tury, which will be re­leased on 4 March...
11 January 2021
5G reg­u­la­tion and law in United King­dom
1. What is the state of 5G de­ploy­ment in your coun­try? The United King­dom is re­l­at­ively more ad­vanced than oth­er European coun­tries in so far as 5G de­ploy­ment is con­cerned. All four ma­jor mo­bile net­work...
5 August 2019
Fibre rol­lout needs more than words. The gaunt­let is now thrown down for...
It took clear, de­term­ined and force­ful reg­u­lat­ory ac­tion for the con­tin­ent­al broad­band rol­lout lead­ers, Spain and Por­tugal, to change the dy­nam­ics of their mar­kets. Some long es­tab­lished prac­tices had...
28 April 2020
Green light for UK tower con­sol­id­a­tion
On 22 April 2020, the UK Com­pet­i­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity (CMA) cleared Cell­nex’s ac­quis­i­tion of Ar­qiva’s UK tele­coms in­fra­struc­ture busi­ness.  Cell­nex, which cur­rently has a small share of the...
15 April 2020
Com­mu­nic­a­tions as an es­sen­tial ser­vice dur­ing coronavir­us (COV­ID-19) con­fine­ment
Gen­er­ally, we have not (yet) seen le­gis­lat­ive or reg­u­lat­ory meas­ures taken for tele­coms in re­spect of COV­ID-19. Of­com and the UK Gov­ern­ment are co­oper­at­ing closely with tele­com pro­viders to man­age the...
29 January 2020
Hua­wei - the UK between a rock and a hard place
It’s no sur­prise that the UK has de­cided that it wishes to con­tin­ue with the in­clu­sion of Hua­wei products and ser­vices in its com­mu­nic­a­tions net­works, al­beit that the com­pany will be banned from sup­ply­ing...
January 2020
In­fraT­ech Fin­ance
Con­nectiv­ity is the new mod­el of what used to be plain old tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions. In the 5G world, hu­mans and ma­chines now do more than just com­mu­nic­ate: they con­stantly and ubi­quit­ously con­nect with...
13 January 2020
Can there be a glob­al telco? How the dream faded...
The tel­cos of the world are in an ex­tremely dif­fi­cult po­s­i­tion. They haven't been able to build ser­vice bundles or brands that sat­is­fy con­sumers in the same way as the tech and me­dia gi­ants of the world...
Shar­ing is (S)caring: Your face is a weapon
Many will already be fa­mil­i­ar with 'fa­cial re­cog­ni­tion'. The term is reg­u­larly seen in news stor­ies, with com­munit­ies such as San Fran­cisco ban­ning the use of it by their po­lice de­part­ments. If you use...
25 February 2020
Top Tech­no­logy Pre­dic­tions 2020
Des­pite the can­cel­la­tion of the Mo­bile World Con­gress 2020, for the third con­sec­ut­ive year CMS will join forces with GP Bull­hound for the an­nu­al Top Tech­no­logy Pre­dic­tions 2020 re­cep­tion. We hope that...
30 October 2019
Shar­ing is (S)caring
Scroll down to re­gister with the blue but­ton.Now mark­ing its 5th year, CM­S's In­ter­na­tion­al Tech­no­logy, Me­dia and Com­mu­nic­a­tions con­fer­ence gath­ers del­eg­ates rep­res­ent­ing the spec­trum of tech­no­logy, me­dia...
22 September 2019
IBA An­nu­al Con­fer­ence
Sev­er­al of our part­ners will be at the IBA An­nu­al Meet­ing in Seoul, South Korea, rep­res­ent­ing a range of jur­is­dic­tions, prac­tice areas and sec­tor spe­cial­isms. To ar­range a meet­ing dur­ing the IBA, please...