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United Kingdom > London Bar > Environment > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings



Index of tables

  1. Environment - Leading sets
  2. Leading Silks
  3. 2018 Silks
  4. 2019 Silks
  5. Leading Juniors

Leading Silks

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  4. 4

2018 Silks

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2019 Silks

  1. 1

Leading Juniors

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4

Environmental law is a significant element in the work of the planning, environment and property team at 'excellent39 Essex Chambers, which is known for its strength in public, commercial and civil liability law. Members of the chambers regularly appear in high-profile cases before the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, and High Court as well as undertaking public inquiry, Crown Court, and Magistrates' Court work.  Four members are involved in the judicial review of the government’s decision on a third runway at Heathrow Airport. Amongst those is Stephen Tromans QC, who is challenging the National Policy Statement on air quality, environmental assessment, transport, and other grounds. Richard Wald represented Natural Resources Wales in its objection to a proposed £1.1bn extension to the M4 motorway based on the impact on protected species. 'All the clerks are really helpful and friendly', remarks a client.

Covering all aspects of environmental regulation and the crossover between environmental law and land use planning, as well as common law and criminal environmental liability, Francis Taylor Building handles matters for large corporates, developers, statutory regulators, environmental action groups and individuals. 'For this area of law, it is pre-eminent, with very good strength in depth,' remarks one client. 'Fantastic chambers, my "go-to" set for planning and compulsory purchase matters', says another who notes that the clerks are 'always helpful, polite and very responsive'. The vast majority of members practice environmental law, including Robert Mccracken QC, who acted for the applicants in Shirely v Secretary of State CLG, a key case regarding the government’s duties when making decisions likely to result in breaches of air quality limit values. Also of note, in Severnside Distribution Land Limited v South Gloucestershire CouncilNed Westaway handled a judicial review claim against a decision to grant hazardous substances consent for a liquefied petroleum gas site.

Landmark Chambers is ‘a place of calm and the barristers and clerks are really helpful and professional’. Members frequently act for government agencies, regulators, corporate clients and private individuals in diverse matters relating to air quality, access to environmental justice, waste, contaminated land, pollution, climate change, emissions trading, environmental permitting and regulation, habitats and species protection, and nuisance, among other issues. 'It is our "go-to" chambers – in my mind, the leading planning set at the moment', remarks one client. Another notes that 'the clerks take the extra step in trying to build relationships'. David Elvin QC acted for the government in Preston New Road Action Group v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, concerning the lawfulness of the decision to undertake exploratory drilling preparatory to fracking. James Maurici QC is defending five judicial reviews against the Airports National Policy Statement under the Planning Act 2008 relating to the proposed new runway at Heathrow Airport.

Blackstone Chambers handles the full scope of environmental matters, utilising its depth of expertise in public, regulatory, local government, competition, energy, EU, procurement, planning and civil liberties law. 'It is the leading public law set and we would not go anywhere else', remarks one client. Another notes that 'the clerks are professional, quick, helpful and friendly'. In Solar Century v SSECCMichael Fordham QC appeared in the Court of Appeal on behalf of the claimant over changes to renewables support. For the last three years, Ravi Mehta has been involved in the most high-profile environmental litigation in the UK courts, the ClientEarth proceedings, acting for a leading environmental NGO in high-profile EU law challenges to the UK’s failure to meet air quality standards in London and other major urban areas.

Cornerstone Barristers is 'excellent on enforcement issues and has a wide variety of knowledgeable barristers suitable for a range of circumstances', notes one client. Another remarks that the set 'always provides exceptional service and appropriate levels of expertise'. Chambers is also noted for its 'friendly and approachable clerks who are always willing to assist'. Members have significant expertise in environmental law, particularly in the area of renewable energy development and related High Court challenges, often in tandem with their planning and public law practices. James Findlay QC handled a full day objection before the House of Commons Select Committee on behalf of the NFU on compensation and compulsory purchase issues along the line of the HS2a development. Estelle Dehon acted for the applicant in the leading case on the application of environmental impact assessment to fracking, Frackman v SSCLG and Cuadrilla, in the Court of Appeal.

'It is in a league of its own across the board from junior barrister to senior QC', says a client of SIX PUMP COURT, who also notes that 'the clerks’ room is exceptional'. The set has notable strength in planning, energy and natural resources, health and safety, as well as environmental law. Stephen Hockman QC, who has specialised in environmental matters for almost 40 years, acted for the claimant in Mott v Environment Agency, a judicial review of a decision restricting the right to fish for salmon in the River Severn. He also advised NGOs WWF and the RSPB on the most effective way for the new environmental watchdog to be independent of government.

Henderson Chambers has unrivalled experience in large-scale environmental group actions, as well as a range of other regulatory matters and civil claims arising from pollution and other environmental issues. The set has notable expertise in  the railway, waste and mining industries, and clients note that it is 'a strong set for health and safety and product liability matters, and for all kinds of regulatory work'. It also has a 'good, practical clerking team that is always there to sort out problems'. Charles Gibson QC acted for Vedanta in a group action concerning alleged water pollution, environmental damage and personal injury as a result of the operation of a major copper mine in Zambia. Kathleen Donnelly represented Volkswagen in claims arising from vehicle emissions testing, including allegations that NOx emissions have damaged the environment.

Matrix Chambers has 'intellectually and strategically skilled barristers and non-stuffy ways of working’, according to one client. Among its members are recognised specialists with extensive experience in international, EU and domestic environmental law. Some have appeared before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), as well as international arbitrations. 'Matrix is a class act with a good clerking team that has strength in depth and an easy manner'. In Bille and Ogale Communities v Royal Dutch Shell, Richard Hermer QC is handling a claim for compensation for two communities in southern Nigeria arising out of extensive damage caused by oil spills. David Wolfe QC is acting for an anti-fracking campaign in Claire Stephenson (Talk Fracking) v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

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