Cloth Fair Chambers’ high-profile work is closely followed in the market, particularly in relation to SFO prosecutions and investigations. In one ongoing highlight, John Kelsey-Fry QC and a team including Rachel Kapila are acting for the chairman of Balli Group as a defendant in an SFO prosecution involving allegations of various fraud offences in the commodities trading sector. Further, the set is routinely involved in precedent-setting prosecutions brought by other UK agencies as well. Nicholas Purnell QC is instructed by law firm Dechert LLP and Neil Gerrard in defending a civil claim by Kazakh mining company ENRC against the retired solicitor and his former firm - the claimants allege that Gerrard expanded the scale of the internal investigation he was instructed to carry out, and worked with the Serious Fraud Office to bring about a criminal inquiry in to his former client. Alison Pople QC acted as counsel for Airline Services Limited in achieving a deferred prosecution agreement with the SFO, resulting from an investigation into the company's failure to comply with its obligation to implement the adequate procedures necessary to protect against bribery.
Business and regulatory crime (including global investigations) in London Bar
‘Real specialist criminal trial experience and handling of high-profile clients.’
‘Cloth Fair has long been established as the go-to set for all serious/complex bribery and corruption matters and their track record supports this.’
‘Cloth Fair Chambers, as a whole, can claim – with considerable justification – to be the leading set in this area. Their roster of silks and juniors (to which they have added in recent years with some very good hires) is absolutely first-rate. They are our first port of call-in for serious business crime matters.’
‘An outstanding set for business crime. I have worked with numerous of the barristers there and they are preeminent.’
‘Excellent. Adrian Chapman and Mark O’Neill are always quick to respond and take on the admin side of liaising with court and other tasks.’
‘Accessible and responsive.’
‘I find the service from the clerks’ room to be very good. Adrian Chapman and Mark O’Neill are easy to get hold of, responsive, and efficient.’
‘A great service is provided by the clerks and chambers is of a size where a personal service is always guaranteed.’
Matrix Chambers offers ‘a large talent pool at several different levels of seniority’ and multi-disciplinary approach to enforcement proceedings. The set enjoys a strong reputation internationally, thanks in part to its strong work relationships with firms in the US and Hong Kong, as well as its extensive experience of engaging with foreign authorities the likes of the US DoJ; in addition, Tim Owen QC is also noted for his focus on offshore jurisdictions, including a judicial appointment to the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands. Another strength of the team lies in its representation of a mix of global companies, banks and financial institutions in fraud, bribery, corruption and money laundering investigations conducted by UK agencies, including the SFO and the FCA; Clare Montgomery QC and Alex Bailin QC remain among the country’s most highly regarded specialists in this space. In October 2020, the set expanded its market visibility in the financial regulatory space with multiple lateral hires, including those of Nichola Higgins of Doughty Street Chambers and former First Senior Treasury Counsel Richard Whittam QC of 2 Bedford Row.
‘Matrix Chambers has a large talent pool at several different levels of seniority, covering libel, white-collar crime, human rights and other areas.’
‘Chambers has a wealth of counsel who are able to assist in the field of regulatory offences.’
‘I know several barristers in different practice areas in the set. Many are at the top of their game and very well-regarded. Their white-collar department is actively growing.’
‘A great clerking team.’
‘Paul Venables is excellent.’
QEB Hollis Whiteman maintains a focus on both defending corporate clients as well as providing strategic prosecution advice to various authorities in all aspects of financial crime; head of chambers Mark Ellison QC and William Boyce QC are among multiple members of chambers noted in this respect. The set is particularly well-known for its extensive experience of high-profile SFO investigations on the prosecution side as well; Crispin Aylett QC and Rachna Gokani successfully acted for the SFO in concluding a deferred prosecution agreement with Airline Services Limited in relation to the company’s failure to prevent bribery.
‘QEB Hollis Whiteman are now established as the top white collar crime chambers. A very strong set of QCs and juniors.’
‘They set the gold standard for handling serious and complex business crime matters. We know that we can trust any one of them to do a phenomenal job.’
‘QEB have considerable strength at all levels across the board. It’s noticeable that five of the six defence counsel one of the SFO’s biggest recent cases were from QEB.’
‘Chambers has gone from strength to strength in this field in recent years – with work now undertaken at the very highest levels and across the range of seniority, for the SFO, the FCA, government agencies and leading defence solicitors.’
‘Professional and assured, led by the experienced and capable Chris Emmings.’
‘The clerks are always friendly and know their market exceptionally well. They are excellent at promoting their barristers and developing business.’
‘Chris Emmings is a pleasure to work with. Very good at finding the right person for the job and understands the area well.’
‘Chris Emmings is one of the nicest, most efficient, trusted and able senior clerks in crime. Faye Stimpson is also fantastic. Both enjoy, and will continue to enjoy, a fabulous profile within the market place.’
Three Raymond Buildings ‘boasts a breadth and depth of business crime lawyers’, who have a wealth of experience of investigations and prosecutions involving allegations of bribery and corruption, corporate fraud, and anti-competitive conduct, among other offences. Chambers’ notable workload includes some of the most closely-watched SFO investigations over the years in sectors such as manufacturing and mining; Hugo Keith QC is highly regarded in this space, while Jonathan Ashley-Norman QC and James Hines QC are also appointed to the SFO’s panel of silks. The set is also routinely instructed with respect to significant multi-jurisdictional issues, such as violations of international economic sanctions regimes, an area in which Rachel Barnes has niche expertise. In addition to their advocacy skills, multiple members, including Patrick Gibbs QC and Ben Summers, are also well-versed in advisory and compliance work for both companies and individuals relating to potential exposure to risk or criminal liability. Summers returned from a 17-month secondment at Hogan Lovells International LLP in August 2021. Alexander Cameron QC retired in November 2020.
‘Three Raymond Buildings boasts a breadth and depth of business crime lawyers who are highly regarded in their field.’
‘Great set, good clerks, happy to deliver training.’
‘Overall, the set has the greatest strength in depth. This means that when you look to instruct one of their barristers, even though your first choice might not be available, there is always another who is equally effective to take on the case.’
‘A range of outstandingly good advocates and is one of London’s go-to criminal sets.’
‘The clerks are friendly, helpful and efficient.’
‘Very client-friendly clerks’ room. Eddie Holland is a delight to deal with.’
‘Having used 3 Raymond Buildings for over ten years, I have no hesitation in saying their clerks’ room is of the highest calibre. Responsive and knowledgeable, special mention must be made of Dean Brown whose attitude and work ethic are second to none. A senior clerk in the making.’
‘Clerks are very professional and accommodating.’
2 Bedford Row is a destination preferred by both corporate and individual clients for high-profile investigations into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption, market abuse and misconduct, and sanctions violations, among others. Multiple set members are highly experienced in SFO investigations; in a recent standout highlight, Jim Sturman QC led a team on defending Ziad Akle, a former Unaoil executive, in relation to the SFO’s headline-grabbing investigation into bribery and corruption. Thomas Daniel was part of the SFO’s team in the Unaoil matter; following significant pandemic-related procedural complications, Akle was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Sturman heads up chambers alongside Brian Altman QC. Simon Baker QC took silk in 2021.
‘I have dealt with several barristers from 2 Bedford Row and have always been impressed with their professionalism, ability, and preparation. In particular, in circumstances where a hearing has to be covered by Counsel whom is not generally instructed on the case, I have always had full confidence that the Chambers will provide Counsel of the appropriate experience and ability for the case.’
‘The set has some very strong members at all levels.’
‘2 Bedford Row is a very strong criminal and regulatory law set. They have some very good juniors coming up through the ranks as well.’
‘Head clerk John Grimmer is a delight to deal with and always goes the extra mile to meet client needs.’
‘The clerks are very professional and know the right fit of counsel for a particular case.’
‘John Grimmer is a legend. Paul Rodgers is a very fine clerk.’
‘Always excellent service from the clerks in those chambers.’
2 Hare Court’s ‘top-quality crime set’ is highly regarded for its criminal fraud expertise, but handles a wide range of other offences, including anti-competitive behaviour, sanctions violations and contentious regulatory issues. Chambers is also regularly sought after for private prosecution work, which is among the areas of expertise of Jonathan Laidlaw QC and Christopher Coltart QC. In a standout ongoing highlight, Coltart is also leading Christopher Foulkes on representing a former director of Redcentric, in a case brought before the Westminster Magistrates' Court with respect to allegations of false accounting, among other charges.
‘A premium set with barristers you would be happy to instruct at any level.’
‘2 Hare Court is one of the premier London criminal sets, approaching every case with a high degree of professionalism.’
‘A top-quality crime set with great strength in depth.’
‘Great clerking – very efficient and helpful.’
‘They have an excellent clerking team – always willing to go the extra mile to provide assistance. Julian Campbell does an excellent job.’
6KBW College Hill’s ‘impressive line-up of excellent barristers’ is very active on the prosecution as well as the defence side of ‘top cases of the day’, in which it is adept at representing both individuals and companies. A particular area of strength for the set are high-profile prosecutions and investigations conducted by the SFO, often in relation to allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption. Chambers’ standout caseload includes Duncan Penny QC representing the former treasurer of the company in a five-defendant SFO prosecution for charges of fraudulent trading and conspiracy to defraud concerning events in the run-up to Balli Group’s collapse.
‘A very good set with an impressive line-up of excellent barristers.’
‘One of the best white-collar and corporate crime sets that has an array of heavy-hitting counsel engaged by both the prosecution and defence in top cases of the day.’
‘6KBW are a heavyweight set for financial crime with incomparable expertise at hand.’
‘6KBW has a deep bench. I have worked with many barristers in chambers and all are uniformly high quality, whatever their level.’
‘Andrew Barnes is a brilliant clerk. A pleasure to work with, responsive and totally understands what is important to me and my clients.’
‘Andrew Barnes and Mark Essex both display an enthusiasm to be highly responsive and effective senior clerks.’
‘Mark Essex is an absolute pleasure to work with. He is dynamic and commercially aware.’
‘Richard Summerscales is ahead of his time and is highly experienced.’
Red Lion Chambers utilises its ‘great strength in depth’ to defend and prosecute high-profile corporate crime cases involving allegations of fraud, money laundering, bribery and corruption. The set is also highly experienced in all stages of domestic and cross-border investigations into suspected offences.
‘Great strength in depth both in relation to their expertise and breadth of experience from juniors through to their QCs.’
‘I have instructed several barristers over the years and have always been impressed with their knowledge and expertise in financial crime and their commitment. They are highly sought after, meaning diaries get booked up well in advance. Chambers have also been helpful in enabling the use of their conference facilities as required.’
‘They are all incredibly well-organised and proactive.’
‘Highly professional, fee notes have been accurate and on time.’
25 Bedford Row acts for both individual and corporate clients in investigations and prosecutions brought by a variety of UK authorities, including the SFO, the FCA and the Environment Agency. Bribery and corruption, fraud and money laundering all form areas of focus for the set. Recent highlights include Duncan Jones acting as junior counsel for the company's former Iraq country manager in the Unaoil case, concerning company's alleged payment of bribes to secure high-value contracts in Iraq.
‘The set provided a very strong team of counsel. They have proved easy to work with and adaptable during the current pandemic.’
‘Chambers have a great offering and, despite their size, are able to offer a dynamic and personal service.’
‘All members of Chambers whom I have had contact with have been happy to assist for the general benefit of the set. 25 Bedford Row is now a large set. In my experience, they always have someone available who is capable of dealing with the largest case and indeed the smallest.’
‘Very good, straightforward to deal with, accommodating and dynamic.’
‘Chambers’ administration is superb with a particularly friendly clerks’ room. From the senior clerk, Guy Williams, down to the most junior member of the clerks’ room, I have found all to be polite, helpful and attentive.’
‘Alfie Lee is an excellent clerk, always approachable and willing to assist.’
‘Emma Makepeace is a superb organiser of the wider functions of Chambers and, particularly, conferences and lectures.’
‘Emma Makepeace and Alfie Lee in particular offer an excellent service and are always willing to assist and make sure any matter is dealt with, regardless of how small or urgent.’
33 Chancery Lane is an ‘extremely strong set’ traditionally known for its POCA expertise, but its members are also adept at handling all stages of agency investigations and proceedings involving allegations of money laundering, fraud, and bribery and corruption, among others. Members of chambers are highly active in SFO and HMRC investigations in particular; chair of the Bar Amanda Pinto QC is instructed by the SFO in relation to the aftermath of its Global Forestry Investments investigation. John Carl Townsend joined from Carmelite Chambers in June 2020.
‘Extremely strong set, with an array of talent across a range of topics.’
‘33 is the go-to set for all matters relating to financial crime and AML. Their annual financial crime seminar day is fantastic.’
‘An excellent set experienced in business and regulatory crime. Best for anything POCA-related.’
‘Everyone there is very clever and tactically astute.’
‘Clerks have always demonstrated a willingness to facilitate whatever required, even at very short notice.’
‘Martin Adams is a pleasure to deal with and makes fee discussions straightforward and comfortable.’
‘Chris Chiles goes above and beyond having gone out of his way to deliver documents to me on his way home!’
‘Martin Evans and Chris Chiles are wonderful.’
Five years after its launch, Fountain Court Chambers’ commercial crime practice continues to grow, most recently with the addition of Robin Lööf from Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s white-collar and regulatory defence team in June 2021. The set has a wealth of experience in high-profile investigations into commercial fraud allegations; in this space, Richard Lissack QC is singled out for having recently led a team representing Serco Geografix, which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement after the electronic tagging subsidiary of the outsourcing firm defrauded the Ministry of Justice.
‘An excellent set for all types of disputes and investigations, including corporate crime investigations.’
‘An excellent, top set.’
‘Very good depth of knowledge and experience and availability of counsel. Open to training and development programmes and keen to know and learn about the solicitors they are working with.’
‘Fountain Court is superbly strong for criminal issues arising in financial services and banking disputes.’
‘Strong, reliable clerking function.’
‘Clerks are very commercial and accommodating.’
‘Very good. Responsive and approachable.’