Set Profile > Chambers of Michael Furness QC > London, England
Chambers of Michael Furness QC Offices
8 NEW SQUARE, LINCOLN'S INN
Chambers of Michael Furness QC > The Legal 500 Rankings
Offshore Tier 1Wilberforce Chambers continues to be 'a go-to set for trust disputes', with members instructed in all manner of Chancery matters across the Caribbean and in other common law-based jurisdictions. Numerous members of chambers were involved in the high-profile AHAB v SAAD case in the Cayman Islands: Tom Lowe QC and Jack Watson represented SIFCO 4, one of the defendant companies; John Wardell QC is instructed to represent AHAB in appeals. In another Cayman highlight, Graeme Halkerston secured the jurisdiction's first statutory ex-parte global freezing order for investors in a collapsed commodity company; the investors alleged fraud by the company's manager, Eike Batista, a Brazilian ex-billionaire who was sentenced to prison in 2018 for a separate bribery matter. Moving to the Channel Islands, Gilead Cooper QC is advising the defendants in the long-running CMC Holdings v Forster case in the Jersey Royal Courts, a case in which the claimants allege the local directors (who include high-profile Kenyan political figures) of a business importing cars to eastern Africa operated a Jersey trust as a slush fund.
Pensions Tier 1
Considered the 'pre-eminent set for pensions' by its clients, Wilberforce Chambers ‘is unrivalled in the area of pensions', has 'unparalleled strength-in-depth' and is 'full of iron brains'. In one standout instruction, Brian Green QC acted for the trustees of the BT Pension Scheme on several issues affecting the pensions of 24,000 members and £2bn liabilities. Meanwhile, in the Court of Appeal, Michael Tennet QC was successful for British Airways in a claim that is considered important in clarifying the roles and responsibilities of trustees. Also of note, Michael Furness QC represents ITV In a case regarding the Box Clever Pension Scheme, which consider's the television network's liabilities for the scheme's deficit.
The 'impressive' Wilberforce Chambers is a ‘strong set for Chancery advice’ with its ‘top-notch lawyers' who have 'a lot of offshore experience'. Members are instructed by many of the UK's major private wealth firms, as well as those internationally, to act in some of the leading trust cases. In one example, Brian Green QC led in Safeway v Newton on a successful reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union. The fundamental issue at stake was the interaction between domestic law and EU law on trustees powers. In another significant instruction heard before the Court of Appeal, Robert Ham QC successfully acted for the second defendant in a case whereby a registered charity sought approval to make a grant of $360m to a new charity that had been established by one of its trustees.
Charities Tier 2Wilberforce Chambers continues to be involved in some complex and high-value matters across the charity sector. As an example of his expertise, Jonathan Davey QC is leading in the significant case of Life Services Ltd v Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs, which is an important test case about the taxation of charities and similar entities. Michael Furness QC has a 'good reputation' among instructing solicitors for charities-related work, aided by his 'quick response time and detailed knowledge' of the sector.
Fraud: civil Tier 2
Clients praise Wilberforce Chambers for providing 'excellent support' and 'communication which is honest and proactive so that any capacity issues can be properly managed'. The set is becoming 'one of the leading sets in the civil fraud arena' and is also noted for its expertise in overlapping areas, such as offshore disputes. Recently, Tom Lowe QC and John Wardell QC were on opposing sides of AHAB v SAAD, while Alan Gourgey QC and Anna Littler are representing Walid Ghiami, one of the defendants in Libyan Investment Authority v JP Morgan & Ors.
Private client: personal tax Tier 2Wilberforce Chambers is 'highly regarded' for personal tax issues. Jonathan Davey QC successfully acted in the high-profile case of Viscount Hood as Executor of Estate of Lady Hood v HM Revenue and Customs, which dealt with the key inheritance tax provisions relating to ‘gifts with reservation’ in relation to family homes.
Professional negligence Tier 2Wilberforce Chambers is commended for its 'enormous strength-in-depth' and although it is the 'market leader in the pensions field', it is 'starting to become the pre-eminent set for property disputes' and is therefore well placed to deal with professional negligence claims in the pensions and property space. The set handles claims against solicitors, barristers, accountants, auditors, actuaries, construction professionals, pensions professionals, finance practitioners, company directors, and insurance brokers. John Wardell QC is acting for the defendant bank in N v RBS, which examines duties owed by bankers when money laundering is suspected. Elsewhere, Jonathan Seitler QC acted for the defendant solicitors in Barker v Baxendale Walker, a claim relating to a £40m trust.
Property litigation Tier 2Wilberforce Chambers provides ‘strength at all levels’ with a ‘strong stable of leading names’. The set is adept on all land law fronts though it boasts specific expertise on commercial and residential landlord and tenant, development, mortgage, and title matters. Joanne Wicks QC and Jonathan Chew recently acted against Jonathan Seitler QC and Emer Murphy in the leading case of Canary Wharf Group v European Medicines Agency which considered whether Brexit constituted a frustration of a long-term lease. A further inter-chambers battle saw Seitler QC face Martin Hutchings QC in No 1 West India Quay Residential Ltd v East Tower Apartments Ltd, the first long lease case under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1988 to reach the Court of Appeal.
Commercial litigation Tier 3Wilberforce 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.
Insolvency Tier 3Wilberforce Chambers houses specialists in corporate and personal insolvency litigation and advice, who are often instructed on matters in the UK and offshore. Lexa Hilliard QC, James Bailey QC and Bobby Friedman acted in Re Force India (Formula 1), while Bailey and Marcia Shekerdemian QC were instructed on Re Paul Baxendale Walker. Shekerdemian QC is particularly noted for her expertise in restructuring and insolvency litigation, successfully representing the security trustees in the contested application for the removal of the administrators in Re: Zinc Hotels (Investments) Ltd.
An 'excellent set with all necessary levels of expertise in commercial areas', Wilberforce Chambers' members are instructed in all areas of company law, including financial assistance, shareholder disputes, and directors' duties matters. Lexa Hilliard QC, Bobby Friedman, and 2019 silk James Bailey QC are advising a consortium led by Lawrence Stroll on the acquisition of the business and assets of the Force India racing team, in Re Force India (Formula 1). In another matter, Terence Mowschenson QC successfully acted for the claimant in Sky Stream Corp v Alexander Pleshekov; a dispute over the ownership of a 20% stake in Transaero Airlines.
‘The Rolls-Royce of pensions sets’ and sitting ‘right at the top of the tree when it comes to big-ticket trust matters’, Wilberforce Chambers is in ‘the Premier League’ of Chancery sets with ‘the strength and depth you would expect of a chambers of its calibre’. Chambers is also developing its reputation as ‘a top-class’ property set and reinforcing its leading positioning in the offshore market where its ‘top-notch’ and ‘collaborative’ members are considered ‘thought leaders’, particularly in the Cayman Islands where ‘a number of its QCs have begun to make their mark’. Further strengthening chambers at the top end, James Bailey took silk in 2019. Clients appreciated the set’s one-day commercial and trust litigation conferences which is ‘of an excellent quality’. ‘Always a pleasure to deal with’, practice director Nicholas Luckman ‘has no rival’ at the Bar. Together with head practice manager Mark Rushton, Luckman runs ‘a very slick operation’ that befits the calibre of the set’s members. The ‘fabulous’ clerking team ‘delivers a service with professionalism and integrity’. ‘Forever going above and beyond’, senior practice manager Fraser Geddes is recommended for his ‘helpful, can-do approach’. ‘He is incredibly client-focused and will always do everything he can to accommodate.’ Also worthy of a special mention is senior practice manager Danny Smillie, who is ‘excellent, and goes the extra mile’. Practice manager Stewart Cameron is ‘a delight to work alongside. Extremely polite, impressively organised, and responsive to boot. You get the sense nothing is too much trouble for him, and he will do all he can to deliver the highest quality service’. Solicitors have also been ‘particularly impressed’ by practice manager Ben Rippengale. The ‘exceptionally helpful’ Andrew Barnes has recently been promoted to senior practice manager and, judging from solicitor feedback, this was a shrewd move by chambers (‘His clerking is second to none and he has been an absolute asset to the team; he’s excellent – responsive, helpful, and has a genuine understanding of the teams he works with’). Antonia Matthew has also been promoted to practice assistant. In addition to the internal promotions, the team has recently expanded too with new practice managers Jess Edson and Conor Michaels arriving from Keating Chambers and 4 PUMP COURT respectively, junior clerk Georgia Pilbro arriving from Doughty Street Chambers alongside Francisco Iannuzzi and Jake Walker in their first clerking roles. Hayley Eustace is the set’s marketing and business development manager. Offices in: London
Chambers of Michael Furness QC > Firm Profile
The set is widely recognised as one of the leading chambers in its core specialist areas of commercial litigation, insolvency, pensions, private client and trusts, property, professional negligence and arbitration. With 73 barristers (34 QCs), chambers is able to offer specialist barristers at all levels of seniority and across the spectrum of commercial and chancery work. It has individuals who possess excellent reputations for their specialist capabilities in the additional fields of arbitration, art and cultural property, banking and financial services, company and partnership, construction, fraud, IT and telecoms, restructuring and insolvency, sport, and tax. With its strength and depth of expertise, members of chambers undertake many of the most complex and important cases in the UK and overseas. Members work hard to build and maintain strong long-term relationships with their clients, including leading UK and international law firms, multinational corporations, major organisations, private companies and individuals. Clients value the modern quality of chambers’ clerking and organisational management and the approachable service provided by barristers and clerks.
Types of work undertaken:
Arbitration and alternative dispute resolution: chambers provides first-class advice and representation in arbitrations and mediations and acts as arbitrator, mediator and expert.
Banking and finance: loan agreements; mortgages and charges; guarantees; other forms of security; retail banking; consumer credit; syndicated lending; asset and project finance; asset tracing; preservation and recovery; insolvency issues; professional negligence claims against those advising lenders.
Commercial: including agency; civil and commercial fraud; confidentiality; construction; contract; energy; joint ventures; partnerships and telecommunications.
Company: shareholder disputes; s994 petitions; derivative actions; share and business sale agreements; breach of warranty disputes; shareholder agreements; directors’ duties; disqualification of directors; conduct of meetings; restoration of companies to register; OEICs; corporate insolvency; accounting and auditing negligence.
Financial services: Markets Act 2000; FCA enforcement and disciplinary proceedings; unit trusts; OEICs; mis-selling claims; Financial Ombudsman Service cases; insolvency of investment firms.
Insolvency: liquidation; administration; receivership; bankruptcy; IVAs, asset tracing; preservation and recovery; avoidance of transactions defrauding creditors; disclaimer of onerous property; CVAs.
International and offshore: the nature of the work conducted overseas is varied and often high-profile, reflecting the broad spectrum of work which members of chambers undertake including trust litigation; company and commercial law; property and intellectual property disputes.
Pensions: trust law; regulatory and tax issues arising in connection with occupational pension schemes and other employment-related trusts.
Private client, trusts and taxation: contentious and non-contentious litigation involving both private trusts and trusts in the wider commercial context, both in the UK and worldwide.
Professional liability: of accountants; actuaries; auditors; company directors; financial advisors; insurance brokers; investment mergers; barristers; solicitors; surveyors and trustees; and construction-related professional negligence.
Property: commercial and residential landlord and tenant law; property-related insolvency; proprietary estoppel; property finance and mortgages; restrictive covenants; easements and profits; property-related torts and questions of title; and the sale and registration of land.
Regulatory and associated law: financial services; professionals; sport; utilities; transport; environmental and planning.
|Head of Chambers||Michael Furness QC (1982)|
|Deputy Head of Chambers||Jonathan Seitler QC (1985)|
|Practice Director||Nicholas Luckman|
|Head Practice Manager||Mark Rushton|
|Members of Chambers||BARNES QC, Michael (1965)|
|Members of Chambers||MARTIN QC, John (1972)|
|Members of Chambers||COHEN QC, Lawrence (1974)|
|Members of Chambers||CROXFORD QC, Ian (1976)|
|Members of Chambers||HAM QC, Robert (1973)|
|Members of Chambers||FURBER QC, John (1973)|
|Members of Chambers||MOWSCHENSON QC, Terence (1977)|
|Members of Chambers||PHILLIPS QC, David (1976)|
|Members of Chambers||GREEN QC, Brian (1980)|
|Members of Chambers||WARDELL QC, John (1979)|
|Members of Chambers||GOURGEY QC, Alan (1984)|
|Members of Chambers||COOPER QC, Gilead (1983)|
|Members of Chambers||TENNET QC, Michael (1985)|
|Members of Chambers||LOWE QC, Thomas (1985)|
|Members of Chambers||AYLIFFE QC, James (1987)|
|Members of Chambers||HILLIARD QC, Lexa (1987)|
|Members of Chambers||SMITH QC, Joanna (1990)|
|Members of Chambers||NEWMAN QC, Paul (1991)|
|Members of Chambers||WICKS QC, Joanne (1990)|
|Members of Chambers||HUTCHINGS QC, Martin (1986)|
|Members of Chambers||WONNACOTT QC, Mark (1989)|
|Members of Chambers||MOERAN QC, Fenner (1996)|
|Members of Chambers||SHEKERDEMIAN QC, Marcia (1987)|
|Members of Chambers||STANLEY QC, Clare (1994)|
|Members of Chambers||PENNY QC, Tim (1988)|
|Members of Chambers||DAVEY QC, Jonathan (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||HILLIARD QC, Jonathan (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||MALLIN QC, Max (1993)|
|Members of Chambers||GREENHILL QC, Julian (1997)|
|Members of Chambers||SCOTT QC, Tiffany (1998)|
|Members of Chambers||SINGLA QC, Nikki (2000)|
|Members of Chambers||BAILEY QC, James (1999)|
|Members of Chambers||CHILD, John (1966)|
|Members of Chambers||SEYMOUR, Thomas (1975)|
|Members of Chambers||POLLARD, David (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||BRYANT, Judith (1987)|
|Members of Chambers||FADIPE, Gabriel (1991)|
|Members of Chambers||HALKERSTON, Graeme (1994)|
|Members of Chambers||CAMPBELL, Emily (1995)|
|Members of Chambers||CHILD, Andrew (1997)|
|Members of Chambers||PESTER, Iain (1999)|
|Members of Chambers||SAWYER, Edward (2001)|
|Members of Chambers||MOLD, Andrew (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||ROBINSON, Thomas (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||BARTON, Zoë (2003)|
|Members of Chambers||McKECHNIE, Emily (2005)|
|Members of Chambers||BLACK, Charlotte (2006)|
|Members of Chambers||ALLEN, Sebastian (2006)|
|Members of Chambers||WALMSLEY, James (2007)|
|Members of Chambers||FAULKNER, Benjamin (2008)|
|Members of Chambers||LITTLER, Anna (2008)|
|Members of Chambers||McCREATH, James (2009)|
|Members of Chambers||MURPHY, Emer (2009)|
|Members of Chambers||ROSCOE, Tom (2010)|
|Members of Chambers||CHEW, Jonathan (2010)|
|Members of Chambers||FRIEDMAN, Bobby (2011)|
|Members of Chambers||ATKINSON, Simon (2011)|
|Members of Chambers||HOLMES, Harriet (2011)|
|Members of Chambers||WATSON, Jack (2012)|
|Members of Chambers||ASHDOWN, Michael (2013)|
|Members of Chambers||GOODWIN, James (2013)|
|Members of Chambers||HOUGHTON, Elizabeth (2014)|
|Members of Chambers||MATTHEWSON, Tim (2014)|
|Members of Chambers||HOLMES, Jamie (2014)|
|Members of Chambers||STEADMAN, Joseph (2015)|
|Members of Chambers||TAYLOR, Tara (2015)|
|Members of Chambers||SCOTT, Daniel (2016)|
|Members of Chambers||GOLDTHORPE, Cara (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||LEE, Jia Wei (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||MITCHELL, Francesca (2017)|
|Members of Chambers||PETRIDES, Daniel (2018)|
|Door Tenants||SHER QC, Jules (1968)|
|Door Tenants||FURZE, Caroline (1992)|
|Sebastian Allen||View Profile|
|Michael Ashdown||View Profile|
|Simon Atkinson||View Profile|
|James Ayliffe QC||View Profile|
|James Bailey QC||View Profile|
|Michael Barnes QC||View Profile|
|Zoë Barton||View Profile|
|Charlotte Black||View Profile|
|Judith Bryant||View Profile|
|Emily Campbell||View Profile|
|Jonathan Chew||View Profile|
|Andrew Child||View Profile|
|John Child||View Profile|
|Lawrence Cohen QC||View Profile|
|Gilead Cooper QC||View Profile|
|Ian Croxford QC||View Profile|
|Jonathan Davey QC||View Profile|
|Gabriel Fadipe||View Profile|
|Benjamin Faulkner||View Profile|
|Bobby Friedman||View Profile|
|John Furber QC||View Profile|
|Michael Furness QC||View Profile|
|Cara Goldthorpe||View Profile|
|James Goodwin||View Profile|
|Alan Gourgey QC||View Profile|
|Brian Green QC||View Profile|
|Julian Greenhill QC||View Profile|
|Graeme Halkerston||View Profile|
|Robert Ham QC||View Profile|
|Jonathan Hilliard QC||View Profile|
|Lexa Hilliard QC||View Profile|
|Harriet Holmes||View Profile|
|Jamie Holmes||View Profile|
|Elizabeth Houghton||View Profile|
|Martin Hutchings QC||View Profile|
|Jia Wei Lee||View Profile|
|Anna Littler||View Profile|
|Thomas Lowe QC||View Profile|
|Max Mallin QC||View Profile|
|John Martin QC||View Profile|
|Tim Matthewson||View Profile|
|James McCreath||View Profile|
|Emily McKechnie||View Profile|
|Francesca Mitchell||View Profile|
|Fenner Moeran QC||View Profile|
|Andrew Mold||View Profile|
|Terence Mowschenson QC||View Profile|
|Emer Murphy||View Profile|
|Paul Newman QC||View Profile|
|Tim Penny QC||View Profile|
|Iain Pester||View Profile|
|Daniel Petrides||View Profile|
|David Phillips QC||View Profile|
|David Pollard||View Profile|
|Thomas Robinson||View Profile|
|Tom Roscoe||View Profile|
|Edward Sawyer||View Profile|
|Daniel Scott||View Profile|
|Tiffany Scott QC||View Profile|
|Jonathan Seitler QC||View Profile|
|Thomas Seymour||View Profile|
|Marcia Shekerdemian QC||View Profile|
|Nikki Singla QC||View Profile|
|Joanna Smith QC||View Profile|
|Clare Stanley QC||View Profile|
|Joseph Steadman||View Profile|
|Tara Taylor||View Profile|
|Michael Tennet QC||View Profile|
|James Walmsley||View Profile|
|John Wardell QC||View Profile|
|Jack Watson||View Profile|
|Joanne Wicks QC||View Profile|
|Mark Wonnacott QC||View Profile|
Equality and diversity
Wilberforce Chambers is committed to equal opportunities in all aspects of its work. All barristers are committed to observing the Bar Standards Board’s Equality and Diversity Rules of the Code of Conduct in relation to non-discrimination in the acceptance of work, the carrying out of that work and all dealings with clients, colleagues, staff and others. Staff are committed to complying with this policy.
It is our policy to treat everyone equally and fairly regardless of their racial group, colour, ethnic or national origin, nationality, citizenship, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, religion or political persuasion.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Wilberforce maintains a strong commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Through our Bar Access Programme we are actively involved in outreach and access initiatives to encourage and support people from diverse backgrounds in developing a career at the Bar. An important element of the Bar Access Programme is our on-going partnership with the Sutton Trust (the well-known charitable foundation whose aim is to promote social mobility) through which we support their various initiatives in the legal arena. We continue to run mini-pupillage/placement programmes for their Pathways to Law pupils and Pathways Plus students and a number of our Members are actively involved in a mentoring programme for Sutton Trust students.
We have also built strong relationships with the Legal Social Mobility Partnership, and the Pegasus and Bar Placement (Social Mobility Foundation) programmes, and provide support to the Barristers’ Benevolent Association and the Strand Trust (via sponsoring the King’s College London’s Trust Law prize, which rewards the student who obtains the best result in the LLB Law of Trusts examination each year).