The Legal 500

London Bar

United Kingdom > London Bar > Commercial litigation

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Index of tables

  1. Commercial litigation – Leading sets
  2. Commercial litigation – Leading silks
  3. Commercial litigation – New silks
  4. Commercial litigation – Leading juniors

Commercial litigation – Leading silks

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Commercial litigation – New silks

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Commercial litigation – Leading juniors

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Time does not stand still for London’s commercial Bar. At the time of research, Iain Milligan QC of 20 Essex Street was in the process of hanging up his wig. Milligan was a long-time mainstay of the top tier and considered by some solicitors to be the ‘best advocate on his feet’. The market will miss him, but there is clearly plenty of new blood coming through. In 2015, 15 of our recommended juniors took silk, following on from 13 in 2014. Whether they achieve the same level of success as Milligan and his generation of super silks remains to be seen. Already, there is an impressive cadre of QCs vying for the top spot, who are increasingly seen as a more popular alternative to some of the old favourites charging eye-watering sums of money. It seems likely that in five years’ time the top tier could start looking very different.

3 Verulam Buildings is an ‘excellent commercial set’, which is ‘extremely well placed for the future with such an enviable younger generation of barristers’. Members at all levels have been involved in some of the biggest cases to hit the market in recent times, notably VTB Capital v Nutritek and Plevin v Paragon Personal Finance, which went to the Supreme Court, and also the £2.2bn Vincent Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton case. Clients appreciate that ‘the clerks will go the extra mile to assist, even on a Friday evening’.


One Essex Court

One Essex Court is right at the very top of the commercial litigation market.  Barristers here appear for a broad spectrum of parties in a significant amount of the major commercial litigation that passes through the UK Courts.  From short procedural hearings and injunctions to large, complex trials, barristers at One Essex Court are sought after for their powerful intellects, market leading advocacy skills and ‘commercial’ good judgment.

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Brick Court Chambers is ‘one of the best sets’, housing ‘a collection of brain boxes’. Major cases often involve multiple members, including UBS v KWL, Depfa and LBBW which involved seven barristers. At the top end, Mark Howard QC and Mark Hapgood QC appeared against each other in Akers v Samba Financial Group that is going to the Supreme Court. Overall, chambers comprises a ‘first-rate team of members and clerks’.

Essex Court Chambers is ‘very strong across the board’ and appreciated for its ‘very proactive clerks’ and ‘excellent service’. The chambers has been particularly active in major fraud cases, such as Otkritie v Urumov & Ors, and is also first choice for commercial disputes that go to international arbitration.

Fountain Court Chambers is an ‘excellent commercial set with real strength in depth at all levels of experience’ and a ‘go-to set for substantial commercial disputes of any kind’. Work highlights included Tchenguiz and others v SFO and the Fiona Trust litigation, which went to the Court of Appeal. Clients are quick to praise the ‘excellent service’ from the clerks.

One Essex Court is ‘a go-to set for large- scale commercial litigation and fraud cases’. It has ‘excellent counsel available at short notice even when the familiar choice is busy’. Case highlights included Victor Mikhaylovich Pinchuk v Igor Valeryevich Kolomoisky and McKillen v Misland and Others.

7 King’s Bench Walk is ‘perhaps best known for its insurance expertise, but it is impressive too in the general commercial and energy spheres’. Members have been involved on some colossal cases, including Excalibur Ventures v Texas Keystone and Gulf Keystone. As well as the barristers, clients recommend the ‘highly professional and accommodating clerks’.

Blackstone Chambers is ‘a first-rate commercial set offering a splatter of leading juniors and silks’. It leads the pack for cases involving elements of public law as reflected in its members’ representation of the SFO in its dispute with the Tchenguiz brothers that settled in July 2014. Barristers are also involved in the high profile Otkritie v Urumov & Ors.

Maitland Chambers is ‘a top-of-the-tree Chancery set, however it is also very fine for commercial law’. Clients rate its combination of ‘creative, user-friendly QCs with bright and highly dedicated juniors’. Highlight cases include Dar al Arkan and Ors v Al Refai and Ors and JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Serle Court is ‘particularly strong in company, finance, civil fraud and contentious trust work’ but ‘has really raised its profile in major commercial litigation in recent years’. ‘There is a wide range of counsel to choose from, and there is particular strength among juniors at all levels.’ Key cases include JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and JSC Mezhdunarodniy Bank & Anr v Sergei Pugachev.

4 Stone Buildings has a top-notch reputation for major Chancery, insolvency and commercial litigation disputes, and boasts a selection of top silks regularly instructed on market-leading cases such as JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and Constantin Medien v Ecclestone.

11 Stone Buildings is ‘particularly user friendly’, and ‘first rate for commercial litigation and insolvency matters’. Members are ‘all bright, enthusiastic, pragmatic and never stuffy’, and the set has ‘a number of promising juniors’. Key cases involving numerous members include Rosserlane v Credit Suisse.

20 Essex Street is a top choice for major shipping, commodities and general commercial disputes. Three members appeared in the high-profile multi-party Alexandros T dispute in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.

Erskine Chambers has ‘a number of excellent juniors for commercial litigation and fraud work’ and is an undisputed leader in cases with a company law element. Stephen Smith QC and Tim Akkouh are a very strong recommendation for fraud-related matters and were both involved in JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Quadrant Chambers is the go-to set for international trade work’ where clerks and barristers are ‘keen to form long-term relationships with clients’. A particular highlight was advising on the oil pipeline dispute Government of Sudan v Republic of South Sudan and Ors in the Commercial Court.

South Square is ‘unbelievably strong on the insolvency side but also fantastic on more general commercial litigation’. Broader commercial litigation highlights include roles on Constantin Medien v Ecclestone and Leni Gas Oil Investments v Malta Oil Pty.

Wilberforce Chambers is ‘absolutely first rate’ and an ‘excellent set for offshore financial, trusts and insolvency work’. ‘The top-notch barristers are well supported by clerks who are always willing to help.’ Key disputes include Ackerman v Ackerman.

XXIV Old Buildings provides ‘a very effective and first-class service’. The set is ‘always responsive and has a good pool of junior barristers who are competitively priced’. The barristers are famous for their offshore expertise, as illustrated by roles on cases such as Al Sadik v Investcorp Bank in the Cayman Islands.

4 Pump Court is the ‘best IT and outsourcing set’, and its ‘stable of talent is fantastic’. A major case in this regard was Fujitsu Services v IBM UK. Clients particularly rate the ‘helpful, courteous and hardworking’ clerks.

Enterprise Chambers is a ‘great set for general commercial litigation and insolvency’, and has ‘quality counsel available at all levels’. Clients also report that the ‘clerks bend over backwards to ensure that someone can pick up urgent work’.

Littleton Chambers is ‘receptive, helpful and very accommodating on price and availability’. ‘The chambers’ practice of having designated junior counsel to deal with urgent court applications is invaluable.

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