Cairns Nelson QC > 23ES > Manchester, England > Lawyer Profile

23ES (Manchester)
2nd Floor, 41 Spring Gardens
M2 2BG


Over the years, Cairns has acquired considerable expertise in the field of fraud and in particular revenue fraud (direct and indirect tax frauds) including civil actions.

He has appeared in a number of cases involving prosecutions relating to the trade in military goods under the Export and Trade Control legislation and regulations. This is a complex area of law; UK statutory provisions, EC directives and UN sanctions. He was appeared in most of the leading complex cases in this field; military aircraft parts to Iran, bombs to Sri Lanka, body armour to Iraq.

Cairns has wide experience of defending homicide cases.

In the regulatory field, he recently represented the BSB in an appeal concerning the fairness of the Bar disciplinary processes.


Called 1987; Gray’s Inn; Silk 2010.


Criminal Bar Association.


King’s College, London (1986 LLB).

Lawyer Rankings

London Bar > Fraud: crime

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 1

Cairns Nelson QC23 Essex StreetCairns is a very charming individual who opponents, judges and juries alike warm to, but this bonhomie belies his tenacity and an acute tactical nose that makes him one of the best fraud defence silks in the business.

23 Essex Street ‘has an extremely good reputation in the field of fraud‘, and is consequently known for ‘skilled and diligent‘ representation of clients in major fraud cases, ranging from Ponzi schemes to boiler room fraud, money laundering, and tax and election fraud, both prosecuting and defending. Recent matters include James McCrindell, who defended in an election fraud case involving obtaining signatures by claiming to represent other parties; the matter was one of the first cases heard in a Nightingale Court. Mark Fenhalls QC  prosecuted the operator of a foreign exchange Ponzi scheme. Cairns Nelson QC, who is representing a former football executive accused of alleged theft of money from CONCACAF, the North American and Central American football governing body, is one of several members with connections in the Cayman Islands.

London Bar > Crime

(Leading Silks)Ranked: Tier 2

Cairns Nelson QC23ESHe relates equally well with high court judges as he does with lay clients and jury. His attitude to client care is second to none. Many silks can be rather “hands-off” when it comes to interacting with lay clients but this is certainly not true of Cairns who is careful to make his client feel an important part of the process. This natural ability to interact with others translates into him being a most impressive and relatable jury advocate.