Portrait of Chris Watson

Chris Watson

Chair, Technology, Media & Communications

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 Chair of the Management Board of the CMS Technology, Media and Communications sector group, and was previously Head of the group for eight years.

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.

Ranked by Chambers and Partners as Band 1 for Telecommunications in the UK, 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. He is a member of the techUK Communications Infrastructure and Services Council.  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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10 key as­pects of the re­vised EU com­pet­i­tion law in the field of dis­tri­bu­tion...
The new Ver­tic­al Block Ex­emp­tion Reg­u­la­tion (VBER) and the new ac­com­pa­ny­ing Ver­tic­al Guidelines (VGL) were pub­lished on 10 May 2022. The new VBER will enter in­to force on 1 June 2022 and ap­ply for the next twelve years. The new VBER/VGL in­tro­duce sev


TMT World Con­gress 2023
CMS law­yers are pleased to be at­tend­ing the TMT World Con­gress 2023 held in Lon­don on 25-26 Janu­ary.Be­low you can find an over­view of our at­tend­ing part­ners, rep­res­ent­ing a large range of jur­is­dic­tions and prac­tice areas. To ar­range a meet­ing, please con­tact the in­di­vidu­al law­yers dir­ectly.Ad­di­tion­ally, the fol­low­ing CMS part­ners will be par­ti­cip­at­ing in these dis­cus­sions:Glob­al Co-Head of the TMC Group Dora Pet­rányi is par­ti­cip­at­ing in the CEO Fireside Chat - Strategies for the next wave of con­sol­id­a­tion, con­ver­gence and com­pet­i­tion, Thursday 26 Janu­ary (10:25 – 10:40)Glob­al Co-Head of Com­mu­nic­a­tions Anne Chitan will mod­er­ate the M&A Pan­el - Is there enough band­width for con­tin­ued con­nectiv­ity trans­ac­tions?, Wed­nes­day 25 Janu­ary (11:30 – 12:10)Chair of Tech­no­logy, Me­dia and Com­mu­nic­a­tions sec­tor group Chris Wat­son will mod­er­ate the break-out ses­sion - The Road to Re­spons­ible Data Pro­cessing - Im­prov­ing Data­centre ESG out­comes, Wed­nes­day 25 Janu­ary (14:00 – 14:50)At CMS, we have some of Europe’s lead­ing leg­al spe­cial­ists in the tech­no­logy, me­dia and com­mu­nic­a­tions sec­tor. Our Di­git­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions In­fra­struc­ture Team com­bines ex­cep­tion­al ex­pert­ise in pro­ject and struc­tured fin­ance, com­pet­i­tion reg­u­la­tion and large-scale in­vest­ment, while our mar­ket-lead­ing tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions team has dec­ades of ex­per­i­ence in the tech­no­logy and com­mu­nic­a­tions space, in­clud­ing strong ex­pert­ise in the areas of fibre, towers, sub­sea cables, net­work shar­ing, data centres and satel­lite.To find out more about CMS Di­git­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions In­fra­struc­ture cap­ab­il­it­ies, vis­it our Di­git­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions In­fra­struc­ture sec­tion.For fur­ther in­form­a­tion, please see our part­ners at­tend­ing the con­gress in the gal­lery be­low and an over­view of all our ex­pert­ise areas.
Of­com changes its ap­proach to net neut­ral­ity: how the UK might spear­head...
Over the course of the last 12 months, a num­ber of im­port­ant de­vel­op­ments in net neut­ral­ity have taken place at EU level: cer­tain pre­lim­in­ary rul­ings res­ul­ted in the European body of telco reg­u­lat­or...
CMS - Meet our ex­perts at The In­ter­na­tion­al Bar As­so­ci­ation (IBA) An­nu­al...
More than 70 per­cent of the world’s pur­chas­ing power is loc­ated out­side of the United States. So for US com­pan­ies, es­tab­lish­ing or grow­ing their busi­ness and in­vest­ments with their main trade part­ners – wheth­er in the UK, the European Uni­on, China, Africa or the Middle East – is es­sen­tial for their suc­cess.However, do­ing busi­ness in di­verse mar­kets, each with its unique leg­al en­vir­on­ment and ways of prac­ti­cing law, re­quires spe­cial­ist know­ledge. Our more than 5,000 law­yers world­wide provide busi­ness-fo­cused ad­vice, wheth­er in a single mar­ket or across mul­tiple jur­is­dic­tions. Our fo­cus is on build­ing long-term part­ner­ships to keep our cli­ents ahead in their chosen mar­kets.CMS law­yers are pleased to be at­tend­ing the In­ter­na­tion­al Bar As­so­ci­ation (IBA) An­nu­al Con­fer­ence from 30th Oc­to­ber to 04th Novem­ber 2022.Be­low you can find an over­view of our part­ners at­tend­ing the IBA An­nu­al Con­fer­ence, rep­res­ent­ing a range of jur­is­dic­tions, prac­tice areas and sec­tor spe­cial­isms.To ar­range a meet­ing, please con­tact melania.kozyra@cmsleg­al.com.CMS law­yers will be par­ti­cip­at­ing in the fol­low­ing pan­el dis­cus­sions:France based Part­ner An­na­belle Bail­leul-Mira­baud will be chair­ing Roundtables dis­cus­sions of glob­al tax trends, Wed­nes­day 2 Novem­ber (1430 - 1730)France based Part­ner Frédéric Roux and Michel Col­let will par­ti­cip­ate in Roundtables dis­cus­sions of glob­al tax trends, Wed­nes­day 2 Novem­ber (1430 - 1730)Italy based Part­ner Paolo Bonolis will par­ti­cip­ate in the pan­el on Con­tract­ing of IT as­sets (di­git­al­isa­tion 2.0) in an in­creas­ingly com­plex reg­u­lat­ory en­vir­on­ment, Monday 31 Oc­to­ber (1430 - 1545)Italy based Part­ner Laura Opilio will take part in 3 pan­els:chair­ing Ad­dress­ing dis­tri­bu­tion-re­lated short­ages of medi­cines and med­ic­al devices from a multi-jur­is­dic­tion­al per­spect­ive meet­ing, Tues­day 1 Novem­ber (1615 - 1730);Hot top­ics in in­ter­na­tion­al com­merce, trade, fran­chising and product law, Monday 31 Oc­to­ber (0930 - 1230);and Best prac­tices in sup­ply chain in the post (or con­tinu­ing) Cov­id en­vir­on­ment, the war in Ukraine and the im­pact of di­git­iz­a­tion, Wed­nes­day 2 Novem­ber (1615 - 1730)Ger­many based Part­ner Bjo­ern Gaul and Orly Gerbi of Herzog Fox Nee­man, Is­rael will mod­er­ate a pan­el on New de­vel­op­ments on Al in the work­place on 02.11.2022 (Wed­nes­day) 9.30 h – 10.45 a.mEm­ploy­ment and In­dus­tri­al Re­la­tions Law Com­mit­tee (Lead for mod­er­at­ors and speak­ers)Tech­no­logy Law Com­mit­tee (one speak­er) with the at­tend­ing ex­perts be­low:Pa­tri­cia Bar­boza, CGM Ad­vogados, Brazil­Steven T. Hunt, Tech­no­logy & Work, SAP In­nov­a­tion Of­fice, USAC­liff Jurkiewicz, Vice Pres­id­ent, Strategy at Phe­nom, USAInge de Laat, Rut­gers & Posch, Neth­er­landsAnthony J. On­cidi, Proskauer, USAVikram Shroff, Nishith De­sai, In­dia­Yardenne Assa, Co-Founder and CEO, Un­box­able, Is­raelTo find out more about CMS, vis­it the About CMS sec­tion.For fur­ther in­form­a­tion, please see our part­ners at­tend­ing the con­fer­ence in the gal­lery be­low and an over­view of all our ex­pert­ise areas.
CMS ad­vises Oore­doo Group on the sale of its tele­com busi­ness in My­an­mar...
CMS has ad­vised Oore­doo Group, an in­ter­na­tion­al com­mu­nic­a­tions com­pany op­er­at­ing across the Middle East, North Africa and South­east Asia, on the sale of its tele­com busi­ness in My­an­mar to Nine Com­mu­nic­a­tions...
CMS ap­points six new prac­tice and sec­tor group heads
CMS is pleased to an­nounce new heads for four of its in­ter­na­tion­al ex­pert­ise groups.All CMS law­yers work in cross-bor­der groups across more than 40 coun­tries world­wide that are struc­tured ac­cord­ing to...
CMS Tech­no­logy, Me­dia & Com­mu­nic­a­tions Glob­al Bro­chure
Read about our ex­pert­ise in ad­vising Tech­no­logy, Me­dia and Com­mu­nic­a­tions play­ers, and their fin­an­ci­ers and in­vestors, in our TMC bro­chure.
CMA pub­lishes fi­nal de­cision in Cell­nex / CK Hutchis­on UK towers in­quiry
In Novem­ber 2020, Cell­nex an­nounced a series of ac­quis­i­tions from CK Hutchis­on of nearly 25,000 tower es­tates across Italy, the UK, Ire­land, Aus­tria, Sweden and Den­mark. While five of the six trans­ac­tions...
The Mo­bile Cen­tury 2022
CMS is de­lighted to sup­port The Mo­bile Cen­tury, a pub­lic­a­tion writ­ten by wo­men in the di­git­al space, pub­lished by the Glob­al Tele­com Wo­men’s Net­work (GT­WN).The GT­WN 30th An­niversary Pub­lic­a­tion is a spe­cial edi­tion. The theme “Re­flec­tions” brings to­geth­er the per­spect­ives of the older gen­er­a­tion of wo­men who have lived ex­per­i­ence of the evol­u­tion of ICT over the past three dec­ades and bey­ond, with wo­men of the young­er gen­er­a­tion, while look­ing ahead to what work re­mains to be done.This sem­in­al work in­cludes es­says by glob­al ex­perts in: Tech evol­u­tion from the early days of the in­ter­net and the mo­bile phone to today; Tech ESG and how di­git­al tech­no­logy can drive sus­tain­ab­il­ity in­to the fu­ture; Tech safety, pro­tect­ing your­self and oth­ers on­line; Tech equity, bridging the di­git­al di­vide; and Fu­ture tech, with a fo­cus on the im­pact of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. You can either browse the pub­lic­a­tion on­line or fill in your de­tails be­low to down­load the full pub­lic­a­tion.
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 as far as 5G de­ploy­ment is con­cerned. The four largest mo­bile op­er­at­ors...
TMT World Con­gress
CMS is de­lighted to be back at the in-per­son TMT World Con­gress 2021. Our di­git­al com­mu­nic­a­tions in­fra­struc­ture team looks for­ward to con­nect­ing and re-con­nect­ing with you and oth­er key lead­ers from...
5G vis­ion video series
A video series on the de­ploy­ment of 5G across the world
CMS Net­work Shar­ing 4.5
On the brink of a new gen­er­a­tion