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THE LEGAL 500 AWARDS

The Legal 500 Awards > UK > 2015 UK WINNERS

Bar winners: comments and photos

To download a PDF of the complete UK awards commentary text, please click HERE.

COMMERCIAL LITIGATION

SET OF THE YEAR

Fountain Court Chambers

This banking and finance behemoth includes a huge array of talent both at silk and junior level, and is the first port of call for the headline commercial cases in the market such as Tchenguiz & ors v SFO and the Fiona Trust litigation. Chambers’ international profile is also growing; it opened an office in Singapore in 2014, bringing to bear members’ strength and expertise in the jurisdiction.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Paul McGrath QC – Essex Court Chambers

Despite only taking silk in 2011, McGrath is now in the top tier for civil fraud and widely considered one of the top silks in this area, having written the leading book on the subject. His representation of Vincent Tchenguiz in disputes with the SFO and Grant Thornton also confirms his go-to status.

 

 

CONSTRUCTION AND ENERGY

SET OF THE YEAR

4 Pump Court

This set scoops the award for its tireless focus on and strong track record in construction and energy law. Members are adept at handling all manner of cases from multibillion-pound international arbitrations and big-ticket domestic mandates at the TCC to high-profile professional negligence cases.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Manus McMullan – Atkin Chambers

Viewed by peers and solicitors alike as one of the best construction silks in the market, McMullan amply demonstrated this reputation by being chosen to act in the raft of high-profile cases arising from the $5.2bn widening of the Panama Canal, one of the largest inf rastructure disputes in the world.

 

 

CRIME

SET OF THE YEAR

Garden Court Chambers

Members of Garden Court Chambers continue to appear in the most serious, legally challenging and era-defining criminal trials and appeals, defending people from all walks of life. Recent case highlights include Henry Blaxland QC’s successful abuse of process submission in the trial of a man accused of the 1982 Hyde Park bombing.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Sasha Wass – 6KBW College Hill

2014 was a headline year for Wass, who prosecuted in one of the most talked about trials of recent times – that of Rolf Harris. Her caseload is diverse and she also maintains a strong reputation in big-ticket financial crime and fraud cases, the latter of which saw her prosecuting Kweku Adoboli, responsible for largest British banking fraud.

 

 

EMPLOYMENT

SET OF THE YEAR

Matrix Chambers

This set is fast-becoming the go-to chambers for High Court employment cases and expanded its team in 2014 by making two lateral hires in Gavin Millar QC and Nicholas Randall QC. Recent work highlights include the challenge to the new Employment Tribunal fee regime and landmark LLP case Bates van Winkelhof v Clyde & Co.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

David Reade QC – Littleton Chambers

is rapidly rising to the fore of the employment Bar, thanks to his high-profile caseload and consistently outstanding feedback from solicitors. In 2014, he acted in the highly publicised Supreme Court case of Hounga v Allen, which examined whether illegal immigrants should be deprived of fundamental workers’ rights.

 

 

EU AND COMPETITION

SET OF THE YEAR

Monckton Chambers

Members of this set have been involved in the largest and most technologically interesting competition litigation of recent times, such as the Pay TV cases that could change the way we all watch sport. The set is also unique in housing a dedicated merger control group, deployed to provide a bolt-on service to law firms.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Aidan O’Neill QC – Matrix Chambers

O’Neill’s practice spans the London, Edinburgh and Luxembourg courts and also encompasses both the commercial and humanitarian sides of EU law. In the past year, he has been instructed in cases challenging alcohol minimum pricing and the disenfranchisement of prisoners in European Parliamentary elections.

 

 

FAMILY AND CHILDREN

SET OF THE YEAR

29 Bedford Row Chambers

This set has been unstoppable in recent years on its path to becoming one of the best chambers for family and children law barristers around, under the competent sentinel Nicholas Francis QC, head of chambers. Recent work highlights include Supreme Court cases Vince v Wyatt and Sharland v Sharland.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Tim Amos QC – Queen Elizabeth Building (QEB)

Amos has long been regarded as a leading financial remedy specialist. Following the landmark Petrodel v Prest case, his workload remains dominated by high-profile divorce cases including one that was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

 

 

INSOLVENCY

SET OF THE YEAR

Maitland Chambers

Since the financial crisis, this set has cemented its expertise in insolvency litigation, exemplified recently in the Bank of Ireland/McFeely litigation regarding the collapse of a property empire. Members are also involved in the Lehman Brothers Waterfall I Application, among other high-profile cases.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Raquel Agnello QC – Erskine Chambers

Since taking silk in 2009, Agnello has gone from strength to strength in the insolvency field and continues to appear in widely publicised cases such as Lehman Brothers. She has a broad practice which also extends to pension related insolvencies.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION

SET OF THE YEAR

Essex Court Chambers

This set remains the dominant force in international arbitration, handling multibillion-dollar cases that cover the full spectrum, including fraud, energy, insurance and infrastructure disputes, as well as major investment treaty arbitrations. Over three quarters of chambers’ members identify arbitration as a key practice area.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Neil Calver QC – Brick Court Chambers

Calver has established a top-notch reputation for major insurance and reinsurance coverage disputes as well as more general commercial matters, earning him a place in the top tier of The Legal 500 international arbitration rankings. Recent work highlights saw him advising on a multibillion-dollar arbitration in South America.

 

 

IP, IT AND MEDIA

SET OF THE YEAR

Three New Square

Although its history is rooted in patent law, Three New Square wins this award for its successful diversification in recent years and increased involvement in soft IP, IT and media related disputes. With regards to the former, members appeared on both sides in Comic Enterprises v 20th Century Fox and Lush v Amazon.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Hugh Tomlinson – Matrix Chambers

Long regarded as a top media law silk, Tomlinson has carved out a reputation as the go-to QC for those bringing privacy actions against Google. He represented the claimants in the Vidal-Hall and Mosley cases, both of which created new law in the protection of privacy online.

 

 

PERSONAL INJURY AND CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE

SET OF THE YEAR

Serjeants' Inn Chambers

This set is going from strength to strength in the clinical negligence field; four members have taken silk in the last five years, and the junior arm is also strong, bolstered by lateral hires in 2015. Members are frequently instructed in the highest-profile cases such as Reaney v University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust and Pringle v Nestor.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Robert Weir QC – Devereux

Since taking silk in 2010, Weir has rapidly risen to fore. He is widely regarded as being one of the top specialists in personal injury law but also has a solid clinical negligence practice to boot. Supreme Court and Court of Appeal cases consistently feature among his enviable workload.

 

 

PRIVATE CLIENT: TRUSTS AND PROBATE

SET OF THE YEAR

XXIV Old Buildings

This chambers is a deserving winner based on the strong caseload throughout 2014/15. Crociani v Crociani, one of the world’s leading ongoing trust disputes, and the large insolvency of a Cayman Islands company in Akers & ors v Samba, are just two examples of high-profile disputes handled by members.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Simon Taube QC – Ten Old Square

Taube has immense experience in this field; he is probably best known for his litigation skills, but also handles advisory work both in the UK and abroad. He was recently called upon to assist the Law Society with its guidance to the solicitors’ profession on contentious probate cases.

 

 

PUBLIC LAW

SET OF THE YEAR

11KBW

The public law group at 11KBW has been gaining momentum in recent years and continues to go from strength to strength. It is particularly strong in local government, education and information law matters, and climbed the civil liberties and human rights rankings in 2015, following a year of standout cases such as Kennedy v Charity Commission in the Supreme Court.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Nigel Pleming QC – 39 Essex Chambers

Pleming combines his thriving public law practice with equally strong expertise in environmental matters. In 2014, he successfully defended Transport for London in a freedom of expression challenge to the decision not to allow a poster campaign by a gay rights group to be placed on the outside of London buses.

 

 

REAL ESTATE, ENVIRONMENT AND PLANNING

SET OF THE YEAR

6 Pump Court

This set’s reputation has been growing in the fields of environment and planning in recent years and these strengths have been particularly exemplified in the past 12 months. Notable cases include Coventry v Lawrence, the pivotal Supreme Court case, and Environment Agency v Southern Water Services, which saw the highest fine ever imposed on a statutory undertaker for a single water pollution offence.

 

 

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Nathalie Lieven QC – Landmark Chambers

Lieven is widely regarded as one of the best public law barristers in the country and her expertise in this area helped her achieve a stellar year in the areas of environment and planning. She continues to appear in the highest courts in cases of great significance such as R (Buckinghamshire County Council) v Secretary of State for Transport – the challenge to the decision to proceed with HS2.

 

 

SHIPPING

SET OF THE YEAR

Quadrant Chambers

Widely praised for its robust and intelligent range of advocates, Quadrant Chambers remains pre-eminent in the shipping space, appearing in the most-talked-about cases in the sector such as Borco v Phillips 66, heard in the Bahamas Court of Appeal, and maritime personal injury case Feest v South West Strategic Health Authority and Bay Island Voyages (CELTIC PIONEER).

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Alistair Schaff QC, 7 King’s Bench Walk

Schaff is one of the best-known shipping practitioners at the Bar and has had yet another stellar year, which saw him win in the ‘B Atlantic’ case Atlas Navios v Navigators, a four-week Commercial Court war risks insurance trial.

 

 

TAX

SET OF THE YEAR

Devereux

This set has made significant inroads in the tax arena in recent years through a stream of lateral hires. The practice was also strengthened at senior level following Jolyon Maugham QC’s elevation to silk in 2015. Chambers is now considered a very strong choice for significant direct and indirect tax disputes as well as personal tax cases.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Julian Ghosh QC – Pump Court Tax Chambers

Ghosh wins this award off the back of a standout year during which he received outstanding feedback from solicitors and acted in high-profile cases such as Ocean Finance v HMRC, which examined what constitutes abuse of rights for the purposes of EU VAT law.

 

 

REGIONAL/SCOTTISH

SET OF THE YEAR

Guildhall Chambers

Western circuit powerhouse Guildhall Chambers commands a leading reputation nationally for insolvency, where it has one of the largest teams outside of London, while other strong suits include crime, health and safety, environment, and personal injury and clinical negligence. The set has a formidable bench of highly-regarded practitioners at all levels of call and was bolstered by the arrival of Jorren Knibbe from Osborne Clarke in October 2014.

 

SILK OF THE YEAR

Anthony Crean QC – Kings Chambers

Leading planning specialist Anthony Crean QC has had a particularly prolific year dealing with various High Court challenges, including those concerning the Lichfield and Cherwell local plans. He also acted for Birmingham City Council on the £1bn regeneration of Longbridge.

 

 

CLERKING/PRACTICE MANAGEMENT – UK WIDE

TEAM OF THE YEAR

9 Gough Square

This set receives consistently outstanding feedback on the service it provides, in fact, for some, ‘one of the major factors in chambers’ continuing success is the approach taken to clerking’. Hailed as ‘the best in the business’, the clerks’ room has gone from strength to strength since ‘client-focused’ Simon Slattery joined 'market leader' Gary Ventura as co-senior clerk in 2013. Together, the team is 'approachable and understanding of issues and pressures instructing solicitors face'.

 

 

SENIOR CLERK/CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE YEAR

David Barnes – 39 Essex Chambers

Since Barnes joined Thirty Nine Essex Street (as it was then known) nine years ago, chambers has proven itself as ‘a formidable force’, not only in London (where it is now the largest civil set) but also across Asia following recent office openings and significant lateral hires in the region. He runs ‘a very tight and effective ship’ of clerks who ‘take time to invest in relationships with solicitors’ and are praised for their ‘modern approach’. As ‘the best clerk out there’, he is ‘really driving chambers forward’.

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