The Legal 500

London Bar

United Kingdom > London Bar > Commercial litigation


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

Commercial litigation - Leading Juniors

Brick Court Chambers is ‘simply a first-class’ set which ‘invariably gets results’. Mark Howard QC is ‘one of the best of his generation’; ‘no one can come near him’. Charles Hollander QC attracts praise for his ‘formidable experience of commercial litigation and sports matters’. Helen Davies QCexhibits the polish and finesse of one of the finest barristers at the Bar’. ‘Streetwise trial advocateAlan Maclean QC* is ‘a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom’. Also recommended is Simon Salzedo QC, who ‘can turn his mind to quite literally anything’. Among the juniors, Simon Birt is ‘one of the best senior juniors at the Bar’, and his ‘intellectual grasp is formidable’. Fionn Pilbrow is ‘undoubtedly a star of the future’, who ‘wins the trust of the court by virtue of his good judgement and charming advocacy’. *Alan Maclean QC is now at Blackstone Chambers.

One Essex Court is ‘a go-to set for really big and complex disputes’, and its clerks are ‘very tuned in to what is needed’. Lord Grabiner QC is ‘in the superstar category; his views, particularly on contractual construction, carry great weight with the judiciary’. Laurence Rabinowitz QCmasters the detail of cases incredibly quickly, and always adds significant value both with his advice and as a tactician’. Other recommended silks include ‘fantastic all-round commercial litigatorStephen Auld QC, who attracts praise for his ‘relaxed yet commanding manner’; Andrew Lenon QC, who ‘delights clients with his in-depth legal expertise and his ability to communicate in Russian’; and the ‘absolutely excellentRichard Boulton QC, who stands out for his ‘fantastic legal advocacy skills, and sterling accountancy expertise’. Among the juniors, Zoë O’Sullivan is ‘tough in thought and deed’, and Anna Boase is ‘an outstanding junior for heavyweight and complex matters’.

Essex Court Chambers is ‘populated with exceptional talent’, with ‘more than its fair share of top-class trial advocates’. Standout silks include ‘master tacticianAndrew Hochhauser QC, who ‘really masters his brief’; and Paul McGrath QC, who is the ‘go-to person for freezing injunctions and asset recovery’. Among the juniors, Edmund King is ‘impossibly bright, with a lightning-quick mind and impressive commercial instinct’. James Willanhas the “Midas touch”, and is not only exceptionally knowledgeable and commercial, but readily grasps the issues concerning clients’. Geraldine Andrews QC has been appointed a High Court judge.

The barristers at Fountain Court Chambers are highlighted for their willingness to go ‘above and beyond to deliver a first-rate client service’. Michael Brindle QC is noted for his ‘good leadership’, and for his ‘presence both in and out of court, which gives confidence to clients’. Michael Crane QC is ‘an exceptional all-round barrister - technically excellent, articulate, strategically astute, and brilliant at dissecting the opponent’s case’. Also recommended are Stephen Rubin QC and Jeffrey Chapman QC, who is noted for his ‘fantastic judgement’. ‘First-class juniorPaul Sinclair has ‘an extremely good sense of the client’s commercial considerations’. Patrick Goodall also attracts praise for his ‘potent mix of commercially sensible, digestible legal advice’. Tamara Oppenheimer is ‘extremely diligent at chasing down all avenues in a productive and commercially focused manner’.

3 Verulam Buildings is ‘very good value for money’, and ‘first port of call for high-end commercial disputes’. Head of chambers Ali Malek QC is ‘a confident and forceful advocate’ who is praised for his ‘ability to suggest innovative takes on legal issues’. The ‘truly brilliantAndrew Onslow QC also stands out, for his ‘analysis and drafting, which are reliably superb’. Adrian Beltrami QC is ‘a concise and very effective advocate’, and ‘one of the very best QCs in the market’. Paul Lowenstein QC is ‘both considered and creative’, and ‘shows himself to be an excellent strategist’. Richard Brent is widely considered ‘the barrister of choice for meaty commercial cases with a banking element or professional negligence twist’. David Head is ‘prepared to take a view and pin his colours to the mast’. James MacDonald’s ‘work is always first class, and his advocacy skills are persistent and persuasive, without being aggressive’. Also recommended is Sandy Phipps, who is ‘one of the stars of his generation’. Stephen Phillips QC has been appointed a High Court judge.

Blackstone Chambers is ‘a major player for big-ticket commercial litigation’, and is commended for its ‘incredible strength in depth’. Barbara Dohmann QC is praised for her ‘phenomenal intelligence, hard work, superb advocacy and forensic skills, but, more than anything else, her incredible judgement and strategic nous’. Robert Howe QCcuts through difficult legal issues, and is not afraid to give a firm opinion’. Andrew Hunter QC is ‘a star of the future (if not already)’, and has ‘a very smooth working style that puts you at ease’. Among the juniors, Tom Weisselbergpossesses advocacy skills which are as polished as you would find in most silks’. Robert Weekes is ‘already punching well above his weight’, and is ‘a superstar in the making’.

20 Essex Street is a highly versatile set with a very strong grounding in major international disputes, particularly those relating to trade and commodities. The ‘strategically astuteIain Milligan QC is ‘a very skilled silk who brings considerable talent and insight to every case’. He is backed by a raft of quality QCs and juniors, including Philip Edey QC, Duncan Matthews QC, Susannah Jones, and Malcolm Jarvis . The set was joined by Christopher Newman from Littleton Chambers, who is ‘very switched-on and easy to work with’.

7 King’s Bench Walk’s barristers and clerks are praised for their ‘speed of response and reliability’. Jonathan Gaisman QC is ‘a dying breed, whose fearsome intellect is matched with devastatingly brutal cross-examination skills’. Richard Waller QC is noted for his ‘keen eye for detail’. Of the juniors, James Brocklebank is praised for his ‘excellent analytical skills and great intellect’. Alexander MacDonald is ‘a joy to work with; thorough, extremely intelligent, astute and charming’.

Maitland Chambers houses an array of ‘responsive, thoughtful and commercially astute barristers’, as well as ‘extremely helpful clerks’. Anthony Trace QC is ‘a fierce and eloquent advocate’, and is praised for his ‘truly blistering cross-examination’. Matthew Collings QC also attracts praise for his ‘patient, even and considered advice’. James Aldridgestands out as one to watch amongst the senior juniors’. David Mumfordcombines technical excellence with good strategic thinking and good client skills’. Also recommended are the ‘outstandingCiaran Keller, for his ‘ability to grasp technically difficult issues’; and Daniel Margolin, who ‘has produced some stunning pleadings and submissions’.

Particularly well regarded for commercial and fraud litigation, Serle Court is ‘well clerked, flexible on funding options and commercial, and takes good care of its clients’. Elizabeth Jones QC has ‘an amazing ability to grasp vast amounts of detail in the shortest possible timeframe’. Philip Jones QC is ‘not only an excellent silk, but an extremely nice man’; ‘on his feet, he is calm and assured, and has an impressive rapport with the bench’. Lance Ashworth QC, who has recently arrived from Birmingham, is ‘a superb advocate, and penetrating cross-examiner’. David Drake has ‘particular skills in assessing and dealing with complex systems and calculations, and is able to explain complex issues succinctly and with remarkable clarity’. Daniel Lightman is ‘diligent, level-headed under pressure, and one of the best juniors out there for big, complex cases’.

South Square is the best set at the Bar for insolvency matters, which overlaps heavily with major commercial and fraud disputes. Robin Knowles CBE QC is ‘one of the most user-friendly members of the Bar’, and ‘clearly commands the respect of the judiciary’. Antony Zacaroli QC is ‘unsurpassed in his responsiveness and his ability to work seamlessly with other counsel and solicitors on the team’. David Alexander QC is ‘a brilliant litigation strategist, and a hard-hitting trial lawyer’. Ben Valentin* has ‘carved out a first-class commercial practice’, and is ‘a superstar among the junior Bar in London’. Tom Smith is ‘proactive, pragmatic and extremely bright, and is a great team player’. *Ben Valentin is now at Fountain Court Chambers.

Erskine Chambers is the premier set for commercial Chancery work, where the ‘eye-wateringly brightDavid Chivers QC enjoys an excellent reputation. The arrival of Stephen Smith QC and Tim Akkouh from New Square Chambers has significantly bolstered its capability in this area. Smith is ‘undeniably a leader in commercial litigation and civil fraud’, and his ‘gentle manner belies his authoritative grasp of the law’. Akkouh is considered ‘an incredibly safe pair of hands’. Martin Moore QC is noted for his ‘very measured advocacy’, and is ‘unflappable when on his feet’. Among the juniors, Nigel Dougherty is considered to be ‘a good team player and strategist’.

4 Pump Court is ‘a refreshingly modern set, and a pleasure to deal with’. It is best known for construction-related disputes, but also boasts some excellent commercial litigation barristers. Nigel Tozzi QC is ‘a brilliant advocate who absorbs facts and assesses merits quickly’. Aidan Christie QC is ‘intellectually bright, commercially astute, and very client friendly. He never appears to get ruffled by opposition or judges’. Among the juniors, the ‘very user-friendly and approachableSean O’Sullivan is ‘a good advocate and effective cross-examiner’.

Quadrant Chambers is ‘a go-to set for commercial litigation’, and has clerks who are ‘always happy to discuss fees, response times, and other service parameters’. The ‘user-friendly, robust and practicalSimon Rainey QC is considered to be ‘very strong technically’. Stephen Cogley QC is ‘an exceptional cross-examiner’, and ‘someone to instruct when the stakes are high’. Yash Kulkarni is ‘frankly brilliant’: ‘a very astute, utterly reliable barrister, with superb technical knowledge of his field’.

4 Stone Buildings has an excellent reputation for commercial Chancery and insolvency work, as well as commercial litigation and related fraud disputes. The ‘courageous and imaginativeJohn Brisby QChas plenty of good commercial and Chancery experience’. Also recommended are Robert Miles QC, who has established himself as one of the most sought-after QCs in the market, and the ‘very bright and hardworkingPeter Griffiths, who is ‘among the most experienced commercial Chancery juniors’.

11 Stone BuildingsJeremy Cousins QC attracts praise for his ‘encyclopaedic wealth of knowledge, and fabulously calm demeanour’. ‘Always a delight to work with’, Lexa Hilliard QC is ‘extremely good with clients, efficient with paperwork, and a persuasive advocate’. Tina Kyriakides is ‘a complete professional’ whose ‘tenacity under pressure is both phenomenal and rare’. Tim Penny is ‘tremendous on analysis of heavyweight facts, and good on strategy, both in court and with clients’. Christopher Boardman is ‘completely unflappable’, and is noted for his ‘superb cross-examination and advocacy skills’.

Wilberforce Chambersprovides a commercial litigation service of real quality. It is clear about agreeing deadlines for the return of work, and gives advice that is strong in terms of business acumen’. Terence Mowschenson QChas the wisdom of Solomon, and is always able to predict what opponents will do’. Ian Croxford QC is ‘a very good tactician, and robust court advocate’. Joanna Smith QC is ‘exceptionally diligent in her preparation, and beguiling in her submissions’. Among the juniors, the ‘commercially savvyNikki Singla is ‘one of the finest junior barristers to be found’.

Enterprise Chambers is praised for the ‘approachability, commercial acumen and legal knowledge’ of its barristers, and the ‘excellent accompanying clerking’. Bernard Weatherill QC is ‘perfect at distilling down complex and technical matters into the case the judge wants to hear’. The ‘commercially astuteLinden Ife is ‘adroitly forceful when it is necessary to get her point over, and has excellent technical knowledge’. Geoffrey Zelin stands out for ‘his ability to work in a team, and his awareness of the commercial sensitivities of each matter’.

Littleton Chambers’ members are considered ‘the kings of injunction matters’. Clive Freedman QC is ‘an incredibly deep-thinking barrister who looks at all angles of the case, and is very comfortable in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court’. Stuart Ritchie QC is ‘excellent at pitching his arguments to suit the tone of the court’. Rupert D’Cruz is ‘an excellent draftsman’, and stands out for ‘his quick mastery of the law as applied to the facts’.

New Square Chambers attracts praise for its strength in depth, which is ‘very useful in urgent cases’, although the recent departure of star barristers such as Stephen Smith QC and Tim Akkouh to Erskine Chambers was a blow. The set as a whole is best known for its commercial Chancery, insolvency and fraud work, and for its strength at the junior end, where it is able to field ‘a wide range of good-quality individuals’. David Eaton Turner has ‘deep technical knowledge, allied to a calm and efficient manner’.

XXIV Old Buildings has ‘quality across the board’, and is many clients’ first choice for offshore-related disputes. Alan Steinfeld QC is ‘a creative thinker with good analytical skills’, and Stephen Moverley Smith QC is ‘very analytical and solid in his knowledge of commercial law, and willing to think outside the box’. Robert Levy QC is ‘an excellent choice for heavyweight offshore litigation arising out of the CIS region’. The ‘excellent, efficient, and utterly charmingStuart Adair is ‘the perfect junior for heavyweight offshore commercial disputes’.

The clerks are very approachable and helpful’ at Radcliffe Chambers, which is also praised for its ‘good spread of general litigation expertise’. Keith Rowley QC is ‘a doughty fighter’ who is praised for his ‘meticulous preparation, and his desire to get to grips with the other side and tear their case apart’. Shantanu Majumdarmixes a very client-friendly approach with a first-rate ability on paper and on his feet’.

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Legal Developments in London Bar for Commercial litigation

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

Legal Developments in the UK

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to
  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to