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
  5. Commercial litigation – Top ten under eight years’ call

Commercial litigation – Leading silks

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Commercial litigation – New silks

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Commercial litigation – Leading juniors

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Commercial litigation – Top ten under eight years’ call

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There is undoubtedly a big shift currently underway within the main commercial sets of the London Bar. The demise of 11 Stone Buildings, whose members dispersed to several different chambers, illustrated the difficulty that some of the more general commercial sets have in retaining a foothold in the market. Even the larger sets have not been immune to departures, for example 3 Verulam Buildings lost Sonia Tolaney QC and two juniors to One Essex Court. Tolaney is one of several up and coming silks making strong names for themselves, and this has been reflected in a generational shift taking place at the top end of the table, where a new group of super-silks is starting to supersede those from the Lord Sumption era. At the junior end, The Legal 500 has also introduced a new category, recognising the top ten counsel under eight years’ call. Such individuals are making waves at the commercial Bar through their involvement in market-leading cases and outstanding client feedback.

3 Verulam Buildings is ‘one of the leading commercial sets’ with ‘some first-class barristers at all levels of experience’. A strong offering of senior silks will offset any damage caused by the departure of Sonia Tolaney QC to One Essex Court. Members are involved in some of the UK’s biggest cases, including the RBS rights issue litigation and Vincent Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton. Clients rate the ‘professional and efficient clerks’, who are ‘very receptive to ideas concerning fees and organising their barristers’ time’.


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 ‘an excellent set for high-value, complex commercial litigation’, and has an ‘excellent depth of QCs and juniors, as well as a strong clerking team’. Members are comfortable handling the full range of disputes, as illustrated by multiple roles across some of the year’s largest cases, including Pinchuk v Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov, Libyan Investment Authority v Goldman Sachs, and Cattles and Welcome Financial Services v PwC.

Essex Court Chambers is ‘a heavy-hitting set across the commercial litigation space’ with ‘an excellent and well-deserved reputation’. ‘No matter who you instruct, you will get a very good counsel.’ The versatile group of barristers span a range of disciplines and provide a good offering in cases that overlap other areas, such as civil fraud. Recent highlights involving multiple members include BAT v Sequana and Barclays Bank v Unicredit.

Fountain Court Chambers has ‘great strength in depth’. While the set remains a dominant presence in the field of banking disputes, with key roles in cases such as Property Alliance Group v RBS, and the RBS rights issue litigation, it is also a mainstay in general commercial claims. Members have been involved in some of the longest-running UK legal battles, including Excalibur Ventures v Texas Keystone and Gulf Keystone, and TeliaSonera v Alfa and Cukurova. In 2016, the set bolstered its ranks through a stream of significant lateral hires. The arrivals included Jonathan Adkin QC from Serle Court, Stuart Ritchie QC from Littleton Chambers and Laura John from 3 Verulam Buildings.

The barristers at One Essex Court are ‘the brightest of the bright and very decent people’. The set’s already strong offering was enhanced by the arrival of Sonia Tolaney QC and two juniors from 3 Verulam Buildings. Key recent cases include Libyan Investment Authority v Goldman Sachs, Hewlett-Packard/Autonomy v Lynch & Ors, and Dar Al Arkan v Kroll. The service is also considered ‘a strength’ with ‘no double booking’ and ‘very responsive, straightforward and helpful clerks’.

7 King’s Bench Walk has ‘a great deal of strength and depth in commercial litigation’ and the set has some of the most highly esteemed advocates at the Bar. Highlight cases involving several members include Orb v Ruhan, Republic of Djibouti v Mr Boreh, and Cattles and Welcome Financial Services v PwC.

Blackstone Chambers is ‘an extremely strong go-to set with commercial barristers and responsive, engaged and extremely user-friendly clerks’. The set houses an adaptable group of silks and juniors, who have represented clients in a range of disputes, including Crown Bidco v Vertu Holdings and Libyan Investment Authority v Société Générale.

Maitland Chambers is ‘one of the strongest sets for commercial litigation’ and praised for being both ‘commercial and approachable’. It is considered a particularly ‘reliable and trusted source for excellent juniors’. Major cases include Dar Al Arkan v Al Refai, involving seven members, and BTA Bank v Dregon Land.

Serle Court is ‘one of the top commercial Chancery sets with considerable depth of experience’ and ‘a good spread of people able to assist with a wide range of matters’. Members have had a strong involvement in major commercial and fraud disputes, including Orb v Ruhan.

Successfully bridging the divide between commercial and Chancery work, 4 Stone Buildings provides a ‘first-rate’ service and is praised for its strength in depth. Members are regularly found acting in some of the market’s largest cases, a notable recent highlight being Autonomy Corporation v Dr Michael Lynch.

20 Essex Street is a ‘premier commercial set with great strength across the board from clerks to juniors and leaders’. Chambers has a strong track record for energy, commodities, shipping and fraud disputes, with top cases including Libyan Investment Authority v Goldman Sachs.

Erskine Chambers is ‘a great set and moving outside of its previous comfort zone of pure company law’. Members are now increasingly involved on some of the largest commercial disputes to hit the courts, including Hewlett-Packard/Autonomy v Lynch and Mezhprombank v Pugachev.

Quadrant Chambers is developing ‘a particularly good reputation for commercial work’, and remains well known for commodities, trade and shipping disputes. Recent case highlights include Enviroco v Farstad before the Supreme Court.

South Square has a first-class reputation for representing clients on cutting-edge, complex disputes. Aside from key roles on most major insolvency cases, other highlights saw members acting in Vincent Tchenguiz and Robert Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton, Primeo v HSBC and Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi v Saad Investments.

Wilberforce Chambers is ‘a very strong set’ that is ‘well regarded by the profession generally’, both for Chancery and general commercial disputes. According to one client, it has ‘clearly recruited the “A team” following the demise of 11 Stone Buildings’. Major cases include Cavendish Square Holdings v Makdessi, which went to the Supreme Court.

XXIV Old Buildings is an ‘excellent set’ that provides ‘great strength in depth in commercial litigation’ and is ‘full of high-quality individuals at every level’. The set has an excellent track record in offshore and general commercial disputes. Highlights include Carlyle Capital v Conway.

At 4 Pump Court, clients appreciate the ‘very professional, first-class service’. Members are experienced across a broad range of disputes involving aspects of insurance, energy, shipping, IT and telecoms, and banking and finance law.

Enterprise Chambers provides ‘a wide range of experienced counsel’ and benefits from ‘a wonderful set of clerks’. Members have been involved in several significant cases of recent times.

Littleton Chambers provides a ‘friendly and high-quality service’ and is a ‘favourite’ for many clients, who see it as ‘vying to become one of the top commercial litigation sets in the country’. Stuart Ritchie QC recently left for Fountain Court Chambers.

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