Partner, Covington & Burling LLP
Brian Kelly is responsible for the EU food and beverage practice within the life sciences team and divides his time between London and Brussels. He provides EU regulatory advice across all food/beverage categories, including transparency/trade secret issues, borderline determinations, food classifications, recall/withdrawal, manufacturing controls, labelling and promotion (including health/nutrition claims and associated branding), novel food issues, GM and specialist food matters (e.g., foods for special medical purposes). He also provides advice on social responsibility and public policy aspects both in the UK and across the EU. A significant part of his practice now involves assisting trade associations, individual companies and governments on the regulatory and trade aspects of Brexit.
He is an experienced solicitor-advocate and represents clients in administrative and enforcement proceedings before regulatory authorities and in the UK and EU courts. He was the lead advocate in a pan-EU legal challenge in the EU General Court in Luxembourg on the validity of the Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation 1924/2006 (Case T-296/12). He was also the sole advocate representing the health food industry in a precedent English judicial review on the borderline between foods and medicines, which has implications for the wider food industry particularly with respect to caffeine and alcohol (R (otao Blue Bio) v MHRA). Mr Kelly is regularly instructed on EU Court of Justice cases on food matters arising in non-UK jurisdictions, including Germany, Sweden and Greece.
The nature of Mr Kelly’s regulatory work means that he is often called upon as a spokesperson for food-related matters that have important reputational consequences. A good example is when a client asked Brian to represent them on BBC Radio 4 to handle an alleged link between its food and the death of a London marathon runner in 2012 and the associated coroner’s inquest. Brian also works with trade associations and clients at the UK and EU level to develop strategic policy and effect legislative change. For example, he recently helped petition the Privy Council on the statutory regulation of nutritional therapists.
Mr. Kelly combines his legal practice with academic teaching. He is an honorary lecturer at University College London.