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A set with "a phenomenal reputation and very, very good people," Essex Court Chambers is a notable player in some of the choicest commercial chancery cases in the market, both at home and abroad. The set has recognised expertise in banking and finance, civil fraud and corporate cases, to name but a few areas, and is noted for its presence in the offshore market. Examples of its recent work include BAT v Sequana, Barclays v Saad, Lehman Brothers Waterfall C, and Hellas II.
Client service: "The clerks are excellent, very proactive and very good at knowing when barristers are available." Joe Ferrigno is the senior clerk.
A busy junior whose commercial chancery practice attracts attention and praise. He is described as hard-working and thorough, and acts on matters featuring some of the most significant names in the area. He is often instructed in high-profile international disputes, including those relating to international debt recovery and freezing orders.
Strengths: "All over the detail in a case and can turn his mind to complex legal and accounting issues." "He is very thorough, very tough, and not someone who gives in easily. He is a very strong character."
Recent work: Acted in BAT v Sequana, successfully appearing forthe tobacco giant in a case concerning multimillion-euro claims against a French-listed conglomerate.
Has a practice covering company, insolvency, banking and fraud disputes, and regularly acts unled against silks. He has experience of handling international disputes concerning conflicts of law and issues of jurisdiction.
Strengths: "Has a very wise head and thinks of points that others wouldn't. He is extremely diligent and his drafting is excellent." "James cuts through all the madness and knows what he is talking about."
Recent work: Successfully acted for the claimant, unled, in a dispute between Ukrainian former spouses. The claimant sought to enforce payment of over GBP2 million due under a deed signed by the defendant.
A very well-regarded commercial junior who has expertise in insolvency, civil fraud and company law. Sources have high praise for his technical legal ability, as well as for his advocacy. He not uncommonly acts unled against silks and regularly appears in offshore disputes.
Strengths: "Truly, truly fantastic. Incredibly impressive in court and often better than the silks in the case, he is one of the biggest stars at the junior Bar right now." "His mastery of the facts of a case, his efficiency and his drafting skills really stand out."
Recent work: Acted unled (and against silks) for Guralp Systems and its private equity owner, Primary Capital, in claims against its former owner and director.
Joe Smouha QC
Brings his commercial litigation expertise to bear on some of the more substantial cases in the Chancery Division. Sources highlight his skill as a trial lawyer and strategist. His work often has an international element, and he has appeared before courts in the BVI and Cayman Islands.
Strengths: "His arguments are very technical and his advocacy is very polished." "Good on his feet and good at cross-examination, he is very robust without overstepping the mark. You really sense that he will fight to the death to achieve his objective, but do it in a way that avoids upsetting the court. He will push a point as far as he thinks is feasible and then nimbly move on. He doesn't die in a ditch."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant in Hosking v Apax Partners LLP & Others, a USD1 billion claim arising from the insolvency of the Hellas telecommunications group.
An experienced commercial chancery junior with a strong civil fraud practice. Sources highlight her ability to give commercial and measured advice. Her practice includes company law, insolvency and fraud cases.
Strengths: "Very impressive in court, she is an understated advocate who puts things across clearly and moves cases along. She has a razor-sharp intellect and is not fazed by questions from the judge."
Recent work: Acted for the defendant in Wide v HSBC and Others, proceedings brought by the liquidators of Stanford International Bank, the Antiguan bank at the centre of a USD7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Paul McGrath QC
A renowned fraud expert known for his convincing advocacy and ability to run unusual cases. His book, 'Commercial Fraud in Civil Practice', "just gives you the answers," according to one barrister.
Strengths: "He has a fantastic brain. If you've got a case where you're looking to push the boundaries he's someone to use. He has huge knowledge of the area and is the ideal person when you've got a legally difficult matter on your hands."
Recent work: Appeared in Accident Exchange v Various Law Firms and Others. The allegations consisted of a conspiracy among various law firms and a company responsible for producing expert reports to produce false manipulated reports to harm the interests of Accident Exchange.
Richard Millett QC
A "very, very effective" QC with an excellent reputation for commercial chancery work. Sources praise him for his advocacy, as well as his technical and strategic ability. He has particular specialisation in hedge fund and private equity disputes, as well as energy-related matters.
Strengths: "Bright, sharp and engaged, he is always very impressive. He is the whole package in terms of his advocacy, client-handling skills, strategy and command of the room." "An absolutely brilliant communicator who is very attuned to what the client wants to achieve. He is excellent at devising the best strategy for the client."
Recent work: Successfully appeared in Çukurova Telecom v Alfa Telecom, a major shareholder dispute over the ownership and control of Turkcell, Turkey’s leading mobile phone operator.
Ruth den Besten
A well-liked commercial chancery junior with a strong civil fraud practice. She is regarded as a good litigator in terms of her advocacy and strategic approach, and is a very valued member of the team. Den Besten is also regularly instructed in insolvency matters.
Strengths: "Her paperwork is very neat and to the point; she has an impressive, succinct style." "She is really well regarded by solicitors and is very commercial in her outlook."
Recent work: Won in the Supreme Court on behalf of Lehman Brothers on its appeal in respect of the liability to pay statutory interest arising in an administration in a subsequent liquidation.
Has a very good reputation at the Commercial Chancery Bar, especially for significant fraud cases and matters hinging on corruption and breach of trust. He is generally instructed to act alongside leading silks. Akkouh also handles insolvency, company and trusts disputes.
Strengths: "Absolutely first-rate, very easy to deal with, very conscientious and someone whose written work is fantastic. He is very confident, he presents very well and he doesn't take unnecessary or minor points." "The perfect junior – he's completely unflappable, furiously hard-working, he knows the law inside out, and he is incredibly good-natured."
Recent work: Acted in JSC Mezhprombank v Pugachev, proceedings against a former Russian oligarch in connection with the liquidation of a major bank in Russia.