South Square > London, England > Set Profile
South Square Offices
3-4 SOUTH SQUARE, GRAY'S INN
South Square > The Legal 500 Rankings
London Bar > Insolvency Tier 1South Square impresses with a considerable line-up of dedicated silks and juniors in this area, being widely regarded as ‘second-to-none in the field of restructuring and insolvency.‘ Members continue to be involved in major cross-border and offshore insolvency cases, including representation on both sides of ING Bank v Banco Santander (Felicity Toube QC and Marcus Haywood for ING Bank and Robin Dicker QC and Clara Johnson for Santander) – the litigation concerns claims that a syndicate of eight lenders, including ING, had against Marme Inversiones 2007 under a €1.5bn loan agreement and related swap agreements. Early insolvency work arising from the pandemic, as well as the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020, also featured frequently, with Tom Smith QC and Richard Fisher QC acting for Debenhams in its Court of Appeal proceedings which confirmed that the administrators had adopted the contracts of employees furloughed on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Michael Crystal QC has retired.
‘They are the leading insolvency set with a lot of brilliant barristers who literally write the book.‘
‘Excellent for insolvency work.‘
‘South Square remain the leaders in the field for insolvency barristers.‘
‘Undeniably the leading set of barristers for restructuring and insolvency.‘
‘Unrivalled breadth of talent in the insolvency and restructuring arena.‘
‘The clerks are good at fitting the right barrister to the right job.‘
London Bar > Offshore Tier 1
A 'go-to set for anything complex', South Square excels in offshore insolvency cases, including some of the biggest matters involving heavyweight allegations of fraud. Tom Smith QC is lead counsel to the plaintiff in Primeo vs HSBC, one of the largest trials in Cayman Island history, and includes two trips to the Privy Council in 2021. Several members continue to be engaged in the fallout of the collapse of private equity house Abraaj, and Felicity Toube QC is working on the long-running AHAB vs Saad litigation. Chambers has a particularly strong Cayman caseload but also acts in a number of significant matters across the Caribbean, with David Alexander QC's litigation-based practice seeing a lot of Hong Kong-related BVI disputes. Exceptional juniors Adam Al-Attar, Toby Brown and William Willson all have experience in some of the biggest recent cases in offshore jurisdictions.
‘South Square has a dominant hold on much of the offshore litigation in Grand Cayman.‘
‘They have made particularly strong progress in Cayman Islands offshore insolvency work.‘
‘South Square unquestionably have a special relationship with the Cayman Islands and its law firms.‘
‘They are unparalleled in the insolvency space and we see them all the time in Cayman.‘
‘My go-to set for anything complex and they consistently deliver excellent results.‘
‘The clerks are as as consistently excellent as the barristers in chambers.‘
South Square is probably the top choice for complex banking and finance cases with a heavy insolvency element. Clients also single out the set's expertise in related offshore claims, often overlapping with civil fraud. One of the larger cases has been Primeo Fund v HSBC, in which Tom Smith QC and Richard Fisher QC represented the Madoff feeder fund Primeo in a $2 billion claim arising from the Ponzi scheme. Felicity Toube QC and Jeremy Goldring QC were also on opposing sides of the swaps litigation dispute ING v Santander. The set boasts a strong stable of juniors, with Adam Al-Attar, William Willson and Georgina Peters among those developing good reputations.
‘South Square is one of the leading sets for Offshore financial litigation.’
‘They have excellent lawyers at all levels in the finance litigation space.’
‘I have the highest regard for South Square Chambers. They have an excellent bench strength both at the senior and junior end. Their particular area of recognised expertise has, for a long time, centered on Insolvency but the reality is that their expertise extends very significantly beyond that. South Square also offers excellent training and presentations, certainly in relation to insolvency law and practice but also beyond.’
‘South Square is widely regarded as the best chambers for restructuring, insolvency and insolvency litigation. It has great depth as well as the majority of the leading silks in this area.’
‘We work a lot with South Square, particularly on large scale complex commercial litigation and insolvency cases, usually with an international element. They are also strong on fraud cases.’
‘Excellent. Dylan Playfoot is a class act.’
Considered as ‘undeniably the leading set of barristers for company restructuring and insolvency law’, South Square is frequently instructed on market-leading restructuring plans and creditor schemes of arrangement. Notable clients for Barry Isaacs QC include Premier Oil, Debenhams and Castle Trust, while David Allison QC advised Virgin Atlantic Airways and PizzaExpress on the first restructuring plans sanctioned under the new Part 26a procedure. The set is active in the offshore jurisdictions, as evidenced by the practices of David Alexander QC and Felicity Toube QC, whose mandates often pertain to shareholder disputes, breach of duty and conspiracy claims across the Caribbean. A representative instruction concerns the defense of unfair prejudice claims in Ma v Wong through the BVI courts.
Very strong team overall – very clearly the go-to chambers when it comes to restructuring and insolvency counsel.
At the top of their trade.
Strong set for commercial insolvency matters, large body of silks and strong clerking team. Excellent quarterly publication also which I enjoy.
I have the highest regard for South Square Chambers.
My go-to chambers for special administrations.
I never cease to be impressed by the clerking at South Square. In particular, I would single out Dylan Playfoot, Jim Costa, Marco Malatesta and Michael Killick. They are all excellent, responsive, friendly and very helpful.
South Square has a top notch reputation for insolvency, but is also extremely well-regarded in broader commercial litigation, banking, fraud and offshore disputes. The silks and juniors are especially noted for their technical prowess, and the set's service levels and published materials come highly recommended. In Discovery (Northampton) Ltd v Debenhams Retail Ltd, Tom Smith QC and Richard Fisher QC successfully defended Debenhams in a dispute with former shareholder Mike Ashley arising out of the retailer's restructuring. David Alexander QC represented one of the creditors in a dispute arising from the collapse of the retailer Toys’ R’ Us, in which Mark Phillips QC appeared for the other side.
‘I have the highest regard for South Square Chambers. They have an excellent bench strength both at the senior and junior end. Their particular area of recognised expertise has, for a long time, centered on insolvency but the reality is that their expertise extends very significantly beyond that. For my part, my practice spans insolvency, financial and broader commercial litigation and it would be very rare for one or two counsel at South Square not to be in any shortlist of three that I submit to the client. South Square also offers excellent training and presentations, certainly in relation to insolvency law and practice but also beyond.’
‘South Square is a very strong set, with very knowledgeable and talented barristers. It is seen by many as the ‘go to’ set for certain banking and restructuring work, but the barristers I have instructed have been excellent in dealing with commercial disputes outside of these areas.’
‘South Square is undeniably the leading set of barristers for restructuring and insolvency and very able for general commercial litigation.’
‘South Square is superb in my view. Chock full of excellent juniors and peerless silks. My favorite set.’
‘South Square is best known for its strength in insolvency and restructuring, but they have wider strengths in commercial litigation and corporate trust disputes.’
‘The clerks are highly professional and helpful. Can’t fault the service level.’
London Bar > Fraud: civil Tier 3
South Square has a good track record for major fraud disputes, particularly those with a significant insolvency or offshore component - areas in which the set excels. The set's members can regularly be found on some of the largest cases to hit the market. Tom Smith QC has made an especially good name for himself in this area and is lead counsel (with Richard Fisher QC and Robert Amey in support) to the Madoff feeder fund, Primeo, in its billion dollar claim against its former administrator and custodian, HSBC, for fraud and negligence. Smith QC and Felicity Toube QC are also representing the Abu Dhabi-headquartered and formerly London-listed health care company, NMC Group, and its administrators, on fraud issues emanating from its administration.
‘We work a lot with South Square, particularly on large scale complex commercial litigation and insolvency cases, usually with an international element. They are also strong on fraud cases.’
‘South Square has a very strong bench for civil fraud lawyers.’
‘They are an excellent insolvency and chancery set.’
‘The clerks at South Square are responsive, and Marco Malatesta is commercial and practical in all my dealings with him.’
‘The South Square clerks are always extremely responsive and helpful.’
South Square > Set Profile
The set: South Square is a leading set of commercial law barristers who have acted in many of the most important restructuring, insolvency, banking, commercial, company and fraud-related disputes of recent times. The set is highly regarded internationally, with barristers regularly appearing in courts around the world, including in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Types of work undertaken
Restructuring and insolvency: South Square is consistently recognised as the top set for restructuring and insolvency work – both domestic and cross-border. The credit crunch and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have generated a substantial amount of restructuring and insolvency litigation. South Square barristers have been involved in all of the major cases including Virgin Atlantic, Swissport, Debenhams, Lehman Brothers, Saad, Singularis, and Nortel.
Banking and finance: South Square has a strong banking and finance practice, with a particular specialisation in large-scale financial disputes, derivatives, securitisations and structured finance products. Due to its insolvency and restructuring expertise, the set is uniquely positioned to deal with credit crunch litigation and advisory work. Examples of cases include Graiseley v Barclays Bank, BNY Corporate Trustee Services v Eurosail, Landsbanki v Heritable, Landsbanki v Rabobank and GSO Capital Partners v Barclays Bank.
Commercial litigation and dispute resolution: South Square barristers are involved in significant pieces of high-profile commercial litigation in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division. The set is instructed by a wide range of firms, predominantly leading City firms, in commercial matters with a business dimension. Recent cases include Constantin Medien AG v Bernard Ecclestone, BNY Mellon Corporate Services V LGB Capital and Edgeworth Capital (Luxembourg), S.A.R.L. v Ramblas.
Company: South Square plays a major role in company law cases, regularly appearing in litigation arising out of shareholders’ disputes, derivative proceedings and claims relating to directors’ duties. High-profile cases include Smithton v Naggar, McKillen v Barclay and Jackson v Dear. In addition, barristers have acted in virtually all of the recent high-profile creditor schemes of arrangement under the Companies Act, including Hema, Flint Group, Swissport, NN2 Newco and Lecta. South Square barristers also appeared on the first “restructuring plan” promoted (by Virgin Atlantic) under Part 26A of the Companies Act.
Civil fraud: South Square handles some of the most complex commercial fraud and asset tracing litigation. Recent work in England and offshore includes acting in litigation arising from the Saad, Madoff and Stanford frauds as well as litigation involving the Tchenguiz brothers and Bernie Ecclestone/Formula One.
International and offshore: South Square barristers are at the forefront of insolvency, banking, company and fraud cases before the courts of all the major offshore jurisdictions. Examples of work include Abraaj, Ocean Rig, Saad, Singularis, Oscatello, Picard v Primeo, Primeo v HSBC, Dubai World, Thyssen, Marrache and Nolan v Minerva.
Financial services: South Square undertakes a broad range financial services work, including conduct of business rules, client money, payment services, insurance regulation, derivatives, security issues and financial collateral arrangements. Prominent examples of financial services insolvencies have included SVS, Beaufort, Lehman Brothers and MF Global.
Sport: South Square barristers have a long track-record of appearing in high-profile sports law cases. These cases involve acting for numerous sporting bodies (including UEFA, the FA, the Premier League, the English Football League and the England and Wales Cricket Board) and teams (including the McLaren motor racing team and Arsenal FC). In recent years South Square barristers have acted in a number of case concerning the application of financial fair play rules to football clubs, including UEFA v MCFC, EFL v Sheffield Wednesday FC and EFL v Derby County FC.
|Chambers director||William Mackinlay M.V.O|
|Practice managers||Michael Killick|
|Practice managers||Dylan Playfoot|
|Practice managers||Jim Costa|
|Practice managers||Marco Malatesta|
|Members of Chambers||BROUGHAM QC, Christopher (1969)|
|Members of Chambers||HACKER QC, Richard (1977)|
|Members of Chambers||PHILLIPS QC, Mark (1984)|
|Members of Chambers||DICKER QC, Robin (1986)|
|Members of Chambers||TROWER QC, William (1983)|
|Members of Chambers||PASCOE QC, Martin (1977)|
|Members of Chambers||ODITAH QC, Fidelis (1992)|
|Members of Chambers||ALEXANDER QC, David (1987)|
|Members of Chambers||DAVIS QC, Glen (1992)|
|Members of Chambers||ISAACS QC, Barry (1994)|
|Members of Chambers||TOUBE QC, Felicity (1995)|
|Members of Chambers||ARNOLD QC, Mark (1988)|
|Members of Chambers||GOLDRING QC, Jeremy (1996)|
|Members of Chambers||ALLISON QC, David (1998)|
|Members of Chambers||SMITH QC, Thomas (1999)|
|Members of Chambers||CASEY QC, AIDAN|
|Members of Chambers||BAYFIELD QC, Daniel (1998)|
|Members of Chambers||BRIGGS, John (1973)|
|Members of Chambers||GOODISON, Adam (1990)|
|Members of Chambers||STONEFROST, Hilary (1991)|
|Members of Chambers||TAMLYN, Lloyd (1991)|
|Members of Chambers||FISHER, Richard (2000)|
|Members of Chambers||ROBINS, Stephen (2001)|
|Members of Chambers||HAYWOOD, Marcus (2002)|
|Members of Chambers||THORNLEY, Hannah (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||WILLSON, William (2006)|
|Members of Chambers||PETERS, Georgina (2005)|
|Members of Chambers||AL-ATTAR, Adam (2007)|
|Members of Chambers||PHILLIPS, Henry (2008)|
|Members of Chambers||COOKE, Charlotte (2008)|
|Members of Chambers||ABRAHAM, Matthew (2012)|
|Members of Chambers||BROWN, Toby (2005)|
|Members of Chambers||AMEY, Robert (2012)|
|Members of Chambers||SHAW, Andrew (2013)|
|Members of Chambers||PERKINS, Ryan (2014)|
|Members of Chambers||MOKAL, Riz (1997)|
|Members of Chambers||JONES, Madeleine (2015)|
|Members of Chambers||LUPI, Edoardo (2015)|
|Members of Chambers||DARCY, Roseanna (2016)|
|Members of Chambers||WILKINS, Stefanie (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||PYPER, Lottie (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||JUDD, Daniel (2018)|
|Members of Chambers||MUSTAFA, Jamil (2018)|
|Members of Chambers||FRADLEY, Paul (2019)|
|Academic Member||PROFESSOR WORTHINGTON QC (Hon), Sarah|
|Associate Member||DeKOVEN, Ronald|
|Associate Member||BAMFORD, Colin|
|Associate Member||HEATH QC, Paul|
|Associate Member||MORTIMORE QC, Simon|
|Associate Member||BRISTOLL, Sandra|
|Associate Member||SHEAHAN QC, John|
|Associate Member||JAIRAM SC, Seenath|
|Associate Member||PROFESSOR ELLINGER, Peter|
|Associate Member||ISMAIL SC, Roxanne|
|Associate Member||MORTIMER GBS QC, Barry|
|Associate Member||SHANDRO, Sandy|
|Associate Member||SHELDON QC, Richard|
|Associate Member||NEWBOULD QC, Frank J.C|
|Associate Member||PROFFESOR Paulus, Christoph G.|
|Matthew Abraham||Matthew’s practice includes insolvency and restructuring, commercial litigation/arbitration, banking and financial services…||View Profile|
|Adam Al-Attar||Adam specialises in insolvency and restructuring. He has had substantial experience of…||View Profile|
|David Alexander||He has a predominantly litigation-based practice with a particular emphasis on company,…||View Profile|
|David Allison||David specialises in business, commercial and financial law, with a particular emphasis…||View Profile|
|Robert Amey||Robert specialises in business and finance law, with a particular emphasis on…||View Profile|
|Mark Arnold||Mark specialises in domestic and cross-border restructuring and insolvency, banking and finance,…||View Profile|
|Daniel Bayfield||Daniel specialises in business and finance law, with a strong emphasis on…||View Profile|
|John Briggs||John specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency, commercial and chancery litigation, professional…||View Profile|
|Christopher Brougham||Christopher specialises in corporate and personal insolvency and has considerable experience of…||View Profile|
|Toby Brown||Toby practices in commercial litigation and arbitration, insolvency and restructuring, banking and…||View Profile|
|Mr Aidan Casey||View Profile|
|Charlotte Cooke||Charlotte specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency and restructuring, banking and financial…||View Profile|
|Glen Davis||Glen specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency and restructuring, and in commercial…||View Profile|
|Richard Fisher||Richard has a commercial dispute focused practice with a particular specialism in…||View Profile|
|Jeremy Goldring||Jeremy undertakes a wide range of commercial litigation and advisory work. He…||View Profile|
|Adam Goodison||Adam Goodison’s specialisations include restructuring, insolvency, finance/business litigation, company law and trusts…||View Profile|
|Richard Hacker||Richard has a mixed litigation/advisory business law practice, with a specialisation in…||View Profile|
|Marcus Haywood||Marcus specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency/restructuring, banking and financial services, commercial…||View Profile|
|Barry Isaacs||Barry specialises in insolvency and restructuring, banking and finance, commercial litigation and…||View Profile|
|Clara Johnson||Clara is frequently instructed to act for office holders, directors, creditors and…||View Profile|
|Madeleine Jones||Madeleine’s practice includes all forms of domestic and cross-border insolvency, commercial litigation,…||View Profile|
|Edoardo Lupi||Edoardo joined South Square as a tenant in 2016. He specialises in…||View Profile|
|Riz Mokal||Riz specialises in all aspects of domestic and cross-border insolvency, restructuring, bank…||View Profile|
|Fidelis Oditah||Fidelis practices at the English and Nigerian Bars in a broad range…||View Profile|
|Martin Pascoe||Martin’s recent practice includes acting as lead counsel for the administrators of MF…||View Profile|
|Ryan Perkins||Ryan has experience in all of South Square’s core practice areas, including…||View Profile|
|Georgina Peters||Georgina’s practice focuses on commercial litigation (with a strong emphasis on banking…||View Profile|
|Mark Phillips||Mark Phillips QC is Company and Insolvency Silk of the year at…||View Profile|
|Henry Phillips||Henry specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency/restructuring, banking and financial services, commercial…||View Profile|
|Stephen Robins QC||Stephen specialises in the fields of insolvency and restructuring, banking and finance,…||View Profile|
|Andrew Shaw||Andrew’s main areas of practice are insolvency/restructuring, commercial litigation, banking disputes, company…||View Profile|
|Tom Smith||Tom specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, banking and finance, corporate insolvency…||View Profile|
|Hilary Stonefrost||Hilary Stonefrost is a barrister at South Square. She spent a decade…||View Profile|
|Lloyd Tamlyn||Lloyd specialises in all aspects of domestic and cross-border insolvency and restructuring,…||View Profile|
|Hannah Thornley||Hannah is an experienced advocate and litigator. She appears regularly in the…||View Profile|
|Felicity Toube||Felicity Toube QC specialises in domestic and cross-border insolvency and restructuring,…||View Profile|
|William Willson||William specialises in insolvency and restructuring, banking and finance and commercial litigation.…||View Profile|