Banco Chambers is one of Sydney's younger commercial sets, established in 2005, and is noted for having attracted some of Australia's leading junior barristers, in addition to a core of established and respected silks. A recent relocation 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 "the standout commercial floor for barristers - the best of the best," while another observes: "There's a good depth of senior and junior experience, and the barristers work well together. They also work well with barristers from other sets, which is often important and makes the solicitor's job easier." A third stresses a readiness "to adopt new technologies to work effectively with clients." Clerk Jeh Coutinho is a key contact for all enquiries.
John Sheahan KC is regularly acknowledged as "one of the best barristers in Australia for high-end, high-risk commercial matters" in general, and also for restructuring and insolvency mandates specifically. Interviewees pay extensive tribute to his "extraordinarily effective" advocacy, as impressive in the boardroom as in court, with more than one stressing the value of his consistently "calm and persuasive demeanour."
Tim Breakspear SC is described by one interviewee as "head and shoulders above the rest" when it comes to construction matters. Particularly accomplished in his handling of disputes generated by major energy, resources or infrastructure projects, or those involving a heavy engineering component, he is also developing a notable profile on the regional international arbitration scene.
Peter Brereton SC maintains a highly versatile and varied practice, covering the fullest range of first-instance and appellate cases, undertaken for some of Australia's highest-profile companies and embracing a noted competition law capability. Identified by one interviewee as "one of the very best silks in the country," he draws praise from another as a "very quietly spoken but very persuasive advocate," the same source adding: "Judges really listen to him."
Kristen Deards SC is active across a broad range of tax matters, including income tax, CGT and GST-related issues, appearing for both taxpayers and the taxation authorities in cases considered by tribunals up to and including High Court level. She attracts extensive praise from interviewees, one calling her "very successful and highly sought after," another noting that she is "consistently on the rise," while a third simply says: "She is exceptional."
Justin Gleeson SC continues to be identified by interviewees as being "without doubt in the top echelons of the senior counsel ranks in Australia," one calling him "perhaps the best silk I've ever worked with - supremely talented on his feet and meticulous in preparation," while another remarks: "I've never seen a Bench that doesn't give enormous weight to everything he says." His breadth of practice also 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, employment and international arbitration.
Robert Newlinds SC maintains a varied practice in which restructuring and insolvency issues feature particularly prominently, but which also embraces high-profile commercial disputes and class actions. He is described by one interviewee as "a very able leading counsel who is not afraid to make strong tactical decisions," the same source adding: "His preparation, presentation and cross-examination skills are excellent."
Fiona Roughley is active in an impressive variety of fields, including those of construction, insolvency and public inquiries and investigations, and is further noted for her increasing prominence in the class action space. More than one interviewee numbers her among "the very best juniors at the New South Wales Bar," one calling her "a hugely able junior, well known for being very bright and analytical and for excellent preparation skills." Another warns: "She's in high demand, so your case needs to be exciting!"
David Sulan SC is active across a broad commercial spectrum, appearing particularly frequently in insolvency-related cases or those involving allegations of various forms of financial misconduct. He is identified by one source as "truly excellent in the trenches," while another describes him as "a very careful, measured barrister with a great intellect and excellent judgement who's also very good on his feet."
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. He is characterised by one interviewee as "a very skilful advocate and extremely well prepared - one of the leading silks at the New South Wales Bar," while another calls him "cool-headed, experienced and a good lawyer to have in your corner when things are challenging."
Ruth Higgins SC is widely acknowledged as "a go-to for complex commercial matters," one source calling her "a fabulous advocate with a fabulous mind," while another reports: "Just watching her on her feet with the judge and the respect she garners in that context is especially valuable to a client." Long established as a barrister of choice in the competition sphere, she is increasingly noted for her prominence in the insolvency field and for her appearances in major inquiries and class actions.
Richard McHugh SC is described by one instructing solicitor as "one of my go-to guys for bet-the-company, highly complex litigation - intuitively clever and a great tactician with the ability to back it up in court," while another maintains: "It's my strong opinion that he's the best advocate in Australia in terms of oratory." His versatile range incorporates noteworthy experience in the construction, insolvency and regulatory spaces.
Vanessa Whittaker SC has maintained a strong focus on insolvency issues since her days as a solicitor, and it continues to form a substantial part of a practice which also embraces the often related areas of bankruptcy, insurance law and professional liability. She is noted by one interviewee to be "tactically canny and good at reading the judge," while another calls her "sensational and very astute."
Sebastian Hartford Davis operates across a broad range of commercial, corporate and equity issues, offering experience of litigation at all levels of the New South Wales court system as well as in the High and Federal Courts. He is described by one instructing solicitor as a "very good, very clever and user-friendly junior," while another calls him "a highly astute lawyer with the ability to work well with any team." A third source maintains that he is "going to be one of the stars of the Bar."
Kate Lindeman offers extensive experience of litigation throughout the New South Wales court system and in both the Federal and High Courts, her range covering both commercial and public law matters and including appearances in some of the highest-profile cases of 2020 and 2021. Identified by one interviewee as "a superb junior of choice - incredibly quick and efficient, able to master a broad range of law and completely across the details," she is described by another as "very reliable and calm and confident as an advocate."
Robert Yezerski maintains a broad commercial practice within which competition and consumer law issues feature particularly prominently, and also offers notable experience in the handling of class actions and criminal cartel cases. Interviewees variously describe him as "a fantastic competition junior," "an elite strategic thinker and one of the very best juniors at the New South Wales Bar" and "good on his feet and one of the juniors I would most want in a commercial case."
Farid Assaf SC maintains a strong focus on corporate affairs, including questions of directors' duties and other regulatory matters and insolvency issues. An instructing solicitor says of him: "He never leaves you hanging; he rolls up his sleeves, does the work and knows the facts - and his work is of incredibly high quality."
Sandy Dawson SC is regularly identified as "one of Australia's go-to silks for defamation," who is "consistently good" and "one of the doyens of that area," active on behalf of both plaintiffs and defendants. Another contributor is swift to point out that he has "hidden talents in other areas of law, including statutory interpretation of Commonwealth powers of investigation and surveillance," and 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.
Cameron Moore SC consistently attracts praise as one of Australia's "pre-eminent counsel in competition matters" and a noted class action specialist, more than one source stressing the "rare dual expertise" he offers in competition litigation of having acted on both the prosecution and defence sides. An instructing solicitor observes: "His knowledge of ACCC practice and decision-making is unsurpassed."
Christopher Withers SC is particularly noted for his familiarity with financial services, insolvency and regulatory matters and, increasingly, as an advocate on behalf of plaintiffs in prominent class actions. He is described by one interviewee as "an impressive, natural silk who's across the detail and gives confidence to both instructors and funders," while another calls him "strategically brilliant, with an ease and assuredness in his manner and in dialogue with judges, who have confidence in his legal reasoning."