Firms in the Spotlight Commercial litigation
Chambers of Lord Grabiner QC
One Essex Court is a pre-eminent commercial set of barristers’ chambers in London. Members provide specialist legal advice, support and advocacy services worldwide, and the barristers’ expertise covers all areas of arbitration, litigation, regulation and dispute resolution.View Profile...
Commercial litigation in London Bar
With 'excellent bench strength', 3 Verulam Buildings is a 'go-to set for commercial litigation mandates'. Over the years, the set has been building an extremely strong team at the junior end, with some well-chosen laterals, arriving either from rival sets or law firms. Notable recent examples include Jamie Riley QC and James McWiliams from Littleton Chambers. The workload of members also continues to impress, with significant roles on Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton, in which Adrian Beltrami QC successfully represented the defendant, and PCP Capital Partners v Barclays Bank Plc, where Ewan McQuater QC led the defence for the bank.
A 'great set' with 'several heavyweights and rising stars', 4 New Square is an increasingly popular destination for the City's top litigation firms and practices, thanks to its impressive range of experienced silks and hungry juniors. Recently, Justin Fenwick QC and Graham Chapman QC represented Oleg Deripaska and Lolita Danilina respectively in their dispute with Vladimir Chernukhin and others in a major trial before the Commercial Court. Lucy Colter was Fenwick's junior on the case.
4 PUMP COURT is 'very good value' with 'some very good silks and juniors', so say instructing solicitors. The versatile chambers has barristers with a good spread of expertise, from acting on high-end commercial, banking, and insurance claims, to international commodities, shipping, and trade disputes. Nigel Tozzi QC recently represented Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Australia in a dispute with Motortrak before the Commercial Court.
4 Stone Buildings has 'excellent barristers across the board' with 'very sharp minds combined with a user-friendly and commercially minded clerking team'. For some, the set is often the 'first-choice chambers for all commercial Chancery work' and boasts several superstar silks. Recent highlights include Autonomy Corporation v Dr Michael Lynch, in which Robert Miles QC, Richard Hill QC and Sharif Shivji are representing Dr Michael Lynch, and Al Khorafi v Bank Sarasin-Alpen (ME) Limited and others.
7 King's Bench Walk is 'a very strong set' with 'clearly rigorous' selection process for new members. Clients appreciate the 'depth of appreciation of the needs of commercial and insurance clients is impressive'. Members come highly recommended for commercial, insurance, and fraud-related disputes. The set is especially strong at the senior level, where its top silks command huge respect in the courts.
Blackstone Chambers is praised for its 'strong expertise across a range of areas', with 'some genuine heavyweight advocates at the more senior end, together with really impressive juniors who will no doubt be stars of the future'. Clients add that the set's 'commitment to pro-bono work is also very impressive', while it also stands out for its combination of expertise in public and civil law. Major recent instructions included Reignwood and Ors v Ni and Ors, where Anthony Peto QC represented Reignwood as part of a team of four members, including Daniel Burgess. Seven members were also involved on the Ingenious Litigation, including Robert Anderson QC and Andrew Hunter QC. Pushpinder Saini QC will join the Queen’s Bench Division on 1 October 2019.
'A quality set across the board', Brick Court Chambers is 'pre-eminent for commercial disputes'. Clients note that the 'work ethic of the barristers and excellence of their work-product and delivery is almost always superb'. The set's hugely impressive workload demonstrates the esteem with which its barristers are held, as well as their versatility. Recent highlights include Holyoake v Candy Brothers, in which Tim Lord QC, Tom Adam QC and Ben Woolgar were among a group of five members acting for the defendants. Other major cases include Bank St Petersburg v Arkhangelsky, and SKATv Solo Capital Partners and (160) others.
Erskine Chambers is 'a very good set, filled with juniors and silks who are often top of their game'. The set will miss Tim Akkouh, who has joined Essex Court Chambers, although it still has several extremely well-regarded juniors among its ranks. The set is especially strong on Chancery issues, and is also noted for its fraud expertise. A notable highlight was Andrew Thompson QC's role representing BAT Industries in its dispute with Sequana, which went to the Court of Appeal.
Essex Court Chambers is a 'first-class set to turn to on significant matters' with 'an incredibly deep and diverse bench'. The set's versatility on commercial disputes is one of the things that marks it out, with some excellent expertise in areas such as fraud and international arbitration. The set has expanded heavily at the junior level in recent years, with Tim Akkouh arriving from Erskine Chambers being the most recent example. Major recent cases have included PJSC Tatneft v Bogolyubov & Others in which Paul McGrath QC, David Davies and James Sheehan were on opposing sides to fellow members, including Ruth den Besten. Other highlights included Fortress Group v BNP Paribas (the Golden Belt litigation), and Yukos Finance v Lynch. Martin Griffiths QC has been appointed a High Court judge in the Queen’s Bench Division.
Fountain Court Chambers is a 'quality set with strength throughout the ranks', including 'strong juniors and silks who are responsive and fun to work with'. The set has 'the depth of brainpower and size of team which a major solicitor practice needs when the balloon goes up'. Members are regularly called upon to act on the country's most hard-fought disputes, including the landmark Serious Fraud Office v Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, in which Bankim Thanki QC and Tamara Oppenheimer represented the defendant, and Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton, in which David Railton QC and Charles Bear QC were among eight members involved at various stages of the case. Another highlight was Stobart Group v Tinkler, which involved three members from chambers including Alex Barden.
Littleton Chambers has a selection of 'extremely competent and specialist barristers,' who 'have never let me down', according to one instructing solicitor. The set as a whole is praised for being 'cost effective, knowledgeable, client friendly and flexible', and has 'developed a superb commercial dispute practice in recent years', particularly for litigation with 'an employment angle'. Key cases include JSC BTA Bank v Mukhtar Ablyazov and Ilyas Khrapunov, in which Charles Samek QC and Marc Delehanty represented Khrapunov.
With a 'very deep bench' of barristers, Maitland Chambers provides 'a number of very good juniors' and 'some excellent silks' who 'are all a pleasure to deal with'. Members standout for their experience in major commercial Chancery disputes, often with a fraud or offshore element. Members have also seen action on several major Russia and CIS-related claims. Head of chambers Christopher Pymont QC and Thomas Munby represented UC Rusal Plc in its dispute with Crispian Investments Ltd, while Pymont and Benjamin John acted for Vitaly Orlov and Tugushev v Orlov and Others.
One Essex Court is an 'excellent' and 'user-friendly' set that is ‘very good at all levels and particularly useful at the bottom as they have very high academic standards' according to instructing solicitors. The calibre of the barristers, from the top silks to the most junior juniors, ensures an impressive range of high-profile instructions. Lately, several of the set's members have had prominent roles on major cases, including Autonomy v Dr Michael Lynch, where Laurence Rabinowitz QC is leading the claim for Hewlett Packard, supported by Conall Patton. Rabinowitz QC and Patton are also facing Neil Kitchener QC in Omers v Tesco plc. David Wolfson QC also represented EE in various claims brought by Phones4U arising out of its collapse.
Quadrant Chambers has 'excellent strength in depth' and many solicitors report they have 'not felt the need to look beyond the set for commercial litigation work in the past couple of years'. The set has traditionally been a major player in the shipping, trade, and commodities arena, but is now an increasing force in more broader commercial disputes. Recent cases demonstrate this, including West Ham v E20 Stadium LLP, the first televised civil appeal in the Court of Appeal, in which Paul Downes QC lead a team of three members representing West Ham. In Atlas Navios-Navegacao Lda v Navigators Insurance Co Ltd and others, which went before the Supreme Court, Guy Blackwood QC and Simon Rainey QC were among those successfully representing the respondents.
A favoured destination for many of the city's leading litigation departments, Serle Court is particularly noted for its strong grounding in offshore and fraud-related matters, which inevitably cross over heavily into the broader commercial litigation sphere. Most recently, Hugh Norbury QC led a team of four members for Keoghs LLP, one of the law firm defendants in Accident Exchange v McLean and others. Other key cases include Yukos Finance BV v Lynch & Others in which Jonathan Adkin QC was involved, and Glenn v Watson, where Elizabeth Jones QC has led a team of six juniors, including Justin Higgo, on behalf of the claimant.
South Square may be best known for its top-tier expertise in insolvency-related disputes, but its members are also a mainstay of the broader commercial litigation arena. Their standing in the market is reflected in the calibre of their instructions, which recently included Primeo v HSBC, a professional negligence claim arising from the Madoff fraud in which Tom Smith QC and Richard Fisher are among four members representing Primeo Fund. Other highlights include the AHAB v SAAD $9bn fraud dispute, one of the largest of its kind, and Vincent Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton, which involved five of the set's members, including Jeremy Goldring QC and Stephen Robins.
Twenty Essex has 'an impressive bunch' of versatile silks and juniors. Members are especially experienced in major international disputes, often with a fraud or trade component, and they are especially noted for their private international law expertise. Highlight cases include CMOC Sales & Marketing Limited v Persons Unknown & 30 others, which involved the first-ever persons unknown injunction, and was led by Paul Lowenstein QC and also involved Philip Riches and two other members on behalf of CMOC. Another highlight was Deutsche Bank AG v (1) Sebastian Holdings Inc. (2) Mr Alexander Vik in which Duncan Matthews QC successfully represented Alexander Vik in a related offshore claim before the Court of Apeal of the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Wilberforce Chambers has 'excellent strength in depth' and is often the 'first port of call on all Chancery, trust matters'. The barristers are 'first-class specialists and masters of their brief' who 'never disappoint'. Clients note that the set's 'expansion in recent years has turned them into a full-service set to deal with any area of law'. A major highlight has been the significant role several members have had on the AHAB v SAAD dispute, including Tom Lowe QC and John Wardell QC who are on opposing sides. Joanna Smith QC was also instructed to represent the apellants before the Supreme Court in Frederick v Positive Solutions Financial Services Limited.
XXIV Old Buildings has an excellent reputation for acting on hard-fought offshore disputes, and is also a popular choice for commercial claims before the London courts. Recently, several members, including Alan Steinfeld QC and Edward Cumming QC, acted on Carlyle Capital Corporation Limited (in liquidation) and others v Conway & others, while Stephen Moverley Smith QC and Hugh Miall acted on Société Générale v Goldas, a dispute relating to gold bullion consignments.