Banco Chambers is one of Sydney's younger commercial sets, established in 2005, and noted for having attracted some of Australia's leading junior barristers, in addition to a core of established and respected silks. A recent relocation has allowed it to expand its complement to a total of more than 50 barristers. Especially well resourced when it comes to providing advice or advocacy on competition, equity or public law issues, it is also home to barristers with significant expertise in the areas of construction, defamation and insolvency. A significant proportion of set members possess appellate experience or have acted as arbitration counsel or arbitrators in both domestic and international cases. Interviewees testify extensively, both to the set's widely perceived pre-eminence in the Sydney market and to its possession of a clear collective identity; one calls it "probably the premier commercial law chambers in Sydney, with tremendous strength and depth from the junior barristers all the way to the most senior silks," while another identifies a pervasive culture of "excellence without arrogance." Clerk Jeh Coutinho is a key contact for all enquiries.
Cameron Moore SC
is singled out by sources, not only as one of Australia's "leading competition barristers" but also, increasingly, as "a leading class action barrister." He is further identified as a go-to for "big consumer protection cases," the source of this identification going on to describe him as a "judicious quiet achiever who doesn't say a word without having thought about it," but whose "presence in court is such that judges hang on every word and trust him, knowing how much work he has put in."
is widely acknowledged to be a well-regarded barrister at the Sydney Bar, one source noting his involvement in "a lot of complex litigation" and possession of "experience that is unrivalled at his level." He is further recommended as a "specialist big class action advocate," and sources also note his familiarity with financial services, insolvency and regulatory matters.
David Sulan SC
is, in the opinion of one interviewee, one of Australia's "standout barristers for insolvency," the same source going on to praise his "practical, sensible and realistic" approach and the fact that, having practised in the area for so long, "he knows everything without explanation." He is also praised for his impressive handling of "a broad range of commercial disputes," one source calling him "my commercial counsel of choice" and citing Corporations Act, fraud and shareholder dispute experience specifically.
Farid Assaf SC
maintains a strong focus on corporate affairs, including questions of directors' duties and other regulatory matters and insolvency issues. Instructing solicitors find him "very astute so far as commercial matters are concerned, with a good sense of what's truly important in a matter and what isn't," and also praise his "very meticulous and diligent" approach in general and the "notable quality of his drafting" in particular.
is described by one interviewee as "very capable and one of the leading juniors at the New South Wales Bar," while another, who identifies her as "undoubtedly a future leader" of that same Bar, also calls her "smart, diligent and a pleasure to work with." Active in an impressive variety of fields, including those of construction, insolvency and public inquiries, she is said to be "highly regarded across the broad area in which she practises" and especially noted for her "strong track record of working with the big end of town on complex regulatory disputes."
John Sheahan QC
is generally acknowledged as "one of the leading silks in the country," not only for high-stakes commercial briefs in general, but also for restructuring and insolvency mandates specifically. One source says: "In the field of complex corporate restructurings he's outstanding; you couldn't do better," while another observes: "He's run some hugely complex stuff; his mind is razor-sharp." Similar attributes are stressed where his wider work is concerned, one interviewee summing him up as "the best commercial practitioner I've worked with - unparalleled in terms of his ability to cut through complexity, argue difficult points and persuade through subtlety."
Former Commonwealth Solicitor-General Justin Gleeson SC
is numbered among the best barristers in the country by several interviewees, sources variously citing his "intellectual clarity, precision and extreme focus" and the particular brilliance of his submissions. His breadth of practice wins him plaudits, not only for high-profile commercial work, where he is often instructed on appellate cases, but also in the spheres of insolvency, taxation and international arbitration.
Kristen Deards SC
is described by one source as "a very good junior tax silk who is developing a formidable reputation and will be one of the leading tax advocates in the future" - an assessment echoed by several other interviewees, one of whom calls her "a rising star in the Sydney market." Instructing solicitors particularly appreciate the fact that she offers extensive experience of acting for the revenue authorities, as this gives her "valuable credibility with the ATO" when representing taxpayers in litigation or negotiation, and she is also described as "very confident on her feet and excellent in her written submissions."
Peter Brereton SC
is identified by one commentator as "one of the leading silks in Sydney and, indeed, Australia," and his exceptionally versatile commercial practice has lately seen him appearing in some of Australia's highest-profile disputes. He attracts praise for a variety of enviable qualities, one source citing his "high level of engagement with strategy and detail," another his "excellent relationship with the Bench," while a third places him "at the top of his game" and calls him "a go-to for the most complex and client-sensitive matters."
Richard McHugh SC
draws praise as an "excellent general commercial silk who is able to turn his hand to anything," identified by one instructing solicitor as "one of those people you would trust with major litigation." Another, who calls him "my first choice for appeals work," says: "He is technically excellent, with fine-tuned advocacy skills, and always extremely well prepared and impeccable in his courtcraft." His versatile range incorporates especially noteworthy experience in the construction, insolvency and regulatory spaces.
Robert Dick SC
handles a broad range of high-profile, complex commercial litigation mandates in which financial services, regulatory and insolvency issues, or matters subject to major public inquiries, feature prominently. Sources describe him as a "uniquely insightful advocate" with "the depth of experience necessary to be able to quickly get to the nub of an issue and provide clear direction."
Robert Newlinds SC
is, in the words of one interviewee, "good at a lot of things," the list including being a "fantastic general commercial practitioner." Other sources lay particular emphasis on the fact that restructuring and insolvency issues form "a big part of his practice," one noting that he is "definitely a top restructuring barrister" while another calls him "an excellent trench fighter" in this space, echoing the views of commentators who stress his formidable cross-examination skills.
Ruth Higgins SC
"continues to go from strength to strength" in the disputes space, interviewees variously speaking of her as "emerging as one of the stars of the Bar" or "moving into the top echelon," and as a "commercial, exceptional advocate" whose "very strong academic approach translates well into her court craft." Long established as a barrister of choice in the competition sphere, she is increasingly noted for the "sheer breadth of her work," which embraces significant briefs in the energy and insolvency fields and appearances in major inquiries and class actions.
Sandy Dawson SC
stands out, as one interviewee expresses in a widely held opinion, as "an SC of choice for any media or defamation work." The same source goes on to report that he "knows the media world inside and out" and is a "fantastic presence in the courtroom," where he is "almost swashbuckling in his skill." He is also widely noted for his handling of both professional and product liability issues and his representation of plaintiffs in prominent class actions in the latter space.
Sebastian Hartford Davis
enjoys an "excellent reputation as an up-and-coming junior on complex cases." One source calls him "one of the rising stars of the Bar," while another observes that he is frequently "selected by top silks to ride shotgun." He is characterised not only as a "commercial, hands-on practitioner with a lot of energy" who "works well in a team," but also as "an exceptional advocate" and source of "good strategic thought" in his own right. He operates across a broad range of commercial, corporate and equity issues.
Tim Breakspear SC
is described by one instructing solicitor as a "very capable barrister who's great with clients and really does get the key issues." Another interviewee numbers him among the top three construction barristers in New South Wales. Particularly accomplished in his handling of disputes generated by major energy, resources or infrastructure projects, he is also developing a notable profile on the regional international arbitration scene.
Vanessa Whittaker SC
enters the rankings backed by extensive interviewee feedback that identifies her as a "very highly regarded" specialist who is "going from strength to strength" in the insolvency space. Sources further describe her as an "exceptional, extremely intelligent, articulate and commercial" silk who stands out for her "knowledge of how things work" in this area of practice.