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Essex Court Chambers is a widely respected commercial chancery set with a huge depth of technical experience in commercial work, with its capabilities significantly bolstered in 2018 through the arrivals of leading juniors Tim Akkouh from Erskine Chambers and Ruth den Besten from Serle Court. Members are regularly instructed in high-profile matters both on and offshore, with commentators labelling Essex Court an "excellent chambers with excellent people" and commending its line-up of "quality operators." Its barristers demonstrate considerable expertise in issues such as finance, corporate disputes and civil fraud matters, with recent work including advising on the Hellas II insolvency litigation and appearances in BAT v Sequana.
Client service: "It's a very good service." "Essex Court is a very professional outfit." The clerking team is headed by senior clerk Joe Ferrigno.
A high-profile junior whose practice covers the full scope of commercial chancery work, including company and asset redistribution matters. He has a growing reputation for offshore and overseas work.
Strengths: "A great person to work with. He's super smart and has a really good way with the clients." "He works insanely hard and is very thorough, extremely determined and resilient."
Recent work: Acted for the claimant in the Hellas II litigation, claiming the recovery of USD1 billion in distributions paid by a Luxembourg investment vehicle following a refinancing.
Has a commercial chancery practice which focuses on civil fraud, but also has a background in insolvency. His work has an international flavour, and he is praised by sources for both his technical skills and his advocacy.
Strengths: "I have to say he is a complete delight to work with. Incredibly commercial and ferociously bright, with a very clear and no-nonsense approach. He has come into a case with a very fresh commercial perspective. He is just quite brilliant."
Recent work: Appeared unled in Paul Dinglis v Dinglis Properties, acting on behalf of the petitioner in an unfair prejudice petition relating to a family-run property investment company.
Edmund King QC
An effective practitioner with a strong commercial chancery practice. He is a direct advocate who is respected by those who have worked with him. His practice includes fraud, shareholder and bondholder disputes, and he has deep experience in multi-jurisdictional cases.
Strengths: "A real fighter and academically switched on." "Exceptionally clever." "Popular and undoubtedly brilliant."
Recent work: Appeared in an appeal to the Privy Council in Crociani v Crociani, a long-running Jersey trust dispute.
A capable junior who is noted for his work on company and shareholder disputes, commercial fraud and corporate insolvency within a wider commercial chancery practice. He is increasingly instructed as sole counsel and had appeared unled in the Court of Appeal.
Strengths: "He is really excellent. His written work is fantastic and very clear. He understands where the clients are coming from and shapes the strategy accordingly. He's terrific."
Recent work: Appeared unled on behalf of a defendant in Brecon v Beckwith-Smith, a dispute between former business partners over a USD600,000 loan alleging breach of contract, deceit, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment.
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: "James has great knowledge of the law and is able to think outside of the box."
Recent work: Acted for Barclays Bank in resisting claims brought in the Chancery Division by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation on behalf of 39 failed US banks against numerous major European banks alleging LIBOR manipulation.
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: "Very charming and a great advocate." "He has a great command of the courtroom and he's very intuitive and knows his stuff. He's great with clients and, all-round, a fantastic advocate." "He's just excellent, a fantastic intellect and very easy to deal with."
An exceptionally well-respected junior who has made commercial chancery the focus of her practice at the Bar. She is increasingly instructed in extremely high-value commercial and financial disputes, acting for banks, creditors and trustees.
Strengths: "She's everything you want from junior counsel and she's great with drafting. A really good addition at Essex Court."
Recent work: Instructed in Avonwick v Taruta and others, involving USD2 billion fraud and wrongdoing claims concerning the control of a Ukrainian metals business and other assets.
Paul McGrath QC
A widely respected silk who enjoys a commanding reputation at the Commercial Chancery Bar. He is particularly noted for his work in civil fraud, in which he is a recognised expert. He is also frequently instructed on asset tracing.
Strengths: "A wonderful advocate and an able lawyer." "Very down to earth, a good team player, and seems to have excellent judgement on commercial tactical matters as well as how to frame an appeal. He has a very inventive way of putting a case that can bring a much-needed shot in the arm."
Richard Millett QC
An eminent silk with a well-established commercial chancery practice. He is noted for his strength in trial advocacy, but also takes a substantial body of advisory work. His offshore work is another recognised area of expertise.
Strengths: "He's eloquent and persuasive."
Ruth den Besten
A well-known chancery practitioner who focuses on commercial disputes, civil fraud and other high-value matters. She also regularly advises on corporate and insolvency cases, as well as appearing in a wide variety of courts.
Strengths: "She's truly excellent."
Recent work: Appeared unled on behalf of BHS Group in its disputed application to wind up Retail Acquisitions, the vehicle used by Dominic Chappell to purchase BHS from Sir Philip Green and others for GBP1.
A well-known and highly respected junior with a depth of experience across the full range of commercial chancery matters. He is frequently sought after for the most high-profile cases and is widely praised for his work on international tracing.
Strengths: "Tim Akkouh is brilliant – probably, of all of them, the one I would go back to again and again and again. He's a team player and I absolutely trust that he'll think things through from all angles." "Very good indeed on tracing and fraud."
Recent work: Continued to act for BTA Bank in the long-running BTA Bank v Ablyazov fraud litigation.