Insolvency in London Bar
'The leading set, by far, for restructuring and insolvency work', South Square's barristers continue to act in high-profile company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), schemes of arrangements, administrations and liquidations, in addition to the panoply of cross-border insolvency issues and insolvency litigation. Daniel Bayfield QC's practice continues to go from strength to strength, and he is advising the administrators of Wonga Group on various aspects of the company's insolvency, while David Allison QC is acting for Arcadia group in relation to its CVAs. On the junior side, Henry Phillips is regularly instructed on significant insolvencies and restructurings, including Re NN2 Newco Ltd, Re Politus BV, where he assisted Nystar Group wuth schemes of arrangement to restructure £700m worth of debt. In 2020, Richard Fisher QC took silk; In 2019, William Trower QC left for the bench.
Insolvency and reconstruction work is a core focus for 4 Stone Buildings, which is noted by clients as 'a solid set of chambers with an excellent choice of barristers.' Juniors here benefit from experience on the attorney general's panels, while also drawing on significant expertise in company law. Jonathan Crow QC and Robert Miles QC maintain solid practices, the former having acted in the appeal Re Core VCT Plc, a case involving the liquidation of a venture capital trust, and the latter in Singularis Holdings Limited v Daiwa Capital Markets Europe Limited, where he successfully acted for the Cayman Islands-based claimant in a liquidation. New 2020 silk Sharif Shivji QC has a growing reputation for insolvency work, continuing to act for the liquidators in the long-running Stephen Akers v Deutsche Bank AG.
At Enterprise Chambers, insolvency is a key area for members, who act in high-value and often cross-border cases, arising from insolvencies, liquidations, restructurings and administrations. Linden Ife is a senior junior who often acts as leading counsel, with expertise in recovering unlawful dividends paid before insolvency, as well as in claims against directors and insolvency practitioners; exemplified by Clydesdale v Smailes where the administrators were successfully removed. Kavan Gunaratna is another well-regarded junior and has expertise in insolvency matters involving property, commercial and banking law. Elevated to silk in 2020, James Pickering QC acted in Re Mintpal, one of the first provisional liquidations based on a debt in digital currency. Also of note, Madeline Dixon is developing a strong insolvency practice, with experience in cross-border cases.
Erskine Chambers is 'one of the leading company and insolvency sets', with members specialising in contentious insolvencies and corporate restructurings. Peter Arden QC maintains a superlative practice, acting in matters relating to Regis UK, Giraffe, Debenhams and Timberland, advising landlords on potential changes to CVAs following their approval at statutory meetings. David Chivers QC is another big name for insolvency cases and has been appointed an assessor to the Icelandic District Court in the Kaupthing proceedings. Ben Shaw is often instructed on insolvency matters including challenges to landlords' CVAs in the retail sector, an area Patrick Harty is also experienced in.
Serle Court has 'a number of brilliantly-skilled barristers' focusing on restructuring and insolvency, with a fast-growing offshore practice in Guernsey, Gibraltar and Cayman. Members frequently appear before the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court, particularly in cases involving fraud and partnership law. In 2019, Philip Jones QC acted in the successful disqualification proceedings against Dominic Chappell arising out of the collapse of BHS. Philip Marshall QC, leading James Mather, is representing the former chairman of Kingfisher Airlines in defence of bankruptcy proceedings arising from an alleged debt of £1bn. In recent news, Timothy Collingwood QC took silk in March 2020.
Members of XXIV Old Buildings handle all aspects of domestic and international insolvency law, drawing on specific expertise in arbitration, Chancery, commercial and trusts work. Among high-profile matters that exemplify the set's strengths, Elspeth Talbot Rice QC is acting for the trustees of Boris Berezovsky's estate in Gorbunova v Berezovsky, while Francis Tregear QC is instructed on behalf of the additional liquidator for the Herald Fund, one of the largest feeder funds with claims against the Madoff estate, in Re Herald Fund SPC. Also of note, Edward Knight, who is also a qualified chartered accountant, is noted for handling cases at the intersection between fraud and insolvency.
'A very good all-round set', 3 Verulam Buildings is home to a number of commercial insolvency experts. Of note, in Phones 4u Limited v Vodafone Group, Ewan Mcquater QC is leading the counsel team in Vodafone's defence of claims by the administrators of Phones 4u that the client conspired with other networks to withdraw from the mobile phone retailer. Also of note, Matthew Hardwick QC has a significant offshore insolvency practice, often appearing before the BVI court of appeal.
'A great set, with a number of excellent barristers across numerous practice areas', Hardwicke is well-regarded for international and offshore insolvency work arising out of the Channel Islands and Caribbean. Wendy Parker is an insolvency and restructuring law specialist, focusing on directors' duties and rights, derivative claims and shareholder disputes. In Autogas (Europe) Ltd v Saunders Graig and Ochockii, she successfully defended a claim that was brought against the liquidator that failed to obtain sufficient adverse costs insurance. At the junior end, the 'technically very strong' Jonathan Titmuss stands out for having particularly active insolvency practice.
Insolvency and restructuring are key areas for members of Maitland Chambers, who handle both litigation and advisory work. Catherine Newman QC is often instructed on insolvency matters with offshore elements, recently representing the liquidator of a Japanese company and its trustee in bankruptcy in Sigma v Seto, a case seeking to identify and recover assets in jurisdictions including the Cayman Islands and Jersey. Catherine Joanne Addy QC is another insolvency powerhouse in the set, and is currently advising the administrators in Re Lehman Bros International (Europe), (in administration): Lomas & Ors v HMRC, in relation to an application concerning distributions to be made to creditors. Olivier Kalfon is a senior junior with an insolvency practice heavily weighted towards international work involving the Cayman Islands and BVI.
New Square Chambers is 'fast becoming the go-to set for insolvency work at the junior end', with barristers who have particular expertise in offshore insolvency but also regularly handle domestic corporate and personal insolvencies. Able to draw on his experience in shareholder disputes, Robin Hollington QC is noted for his UK-based and international insolvency litigation practice. He recently led Simon Adamyk in relation to to advising a high-value public listed company on the risk of winding up proceedings threatened by minority shareholders. Senior junior David Eaton Turner has an outstanding insolvency and restructuring practice. Jessica Powers is fast developing a strong commercial chancery practice, with a focus on insolvency, and is certainly a name to note at the junior Bar.
Members of Radcliffe Chambers are 'experienced and reliable' and have expertise in all aspects of insolvency litigation, as well as experience in advisory work, which often has an international flavour. In particular, barristers are able to handle administrations, liquidations, receiverships and company voluntary arrangements, and several juniors have been appointed to the attorney general's and secretary of state's panels. Demonstrating the set's strengths at the junior end, Reuben Comiskey focuses on insolvency, fraud and company disputes, and successfully acted for the liquidators of a company running a chain of convenience stores in its recovery claim in Re MKG Convenience Ltd, Abdulali v NISA. Adam Deacock is another noted junior who is an expert in pre-emptive remedies; Katie Longstaff is a rising star in chambers. At the senior end, 2020 saw Christopher Boardman QC take silk.
Wilberforce Chambers' members specialise in corporate and personal insolvency litigation and advice in the UK and offshore. In relation to restructurings, they are able to draw on set-wide expertise in property and pensions. Marcia Shekerdemian QC focuses on contentious insolvency at the cross-roads with fraud, often with cross-border elements; she notably acted for a consortium of 12 Indian banks who have petitioned for the bankruptcy of the former Kingfisher Airways tycoon in Re Vijay Mallya. Lexa Hilliard QC is providing ongoing advice to the monitor of Carillion Canada in connection with its interests in the UK. In February 2020, Daniel Lewis and rising star Rachael Earle arrived from 3 Hare Court, further strengthening their new chambers at the junior end.