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Fountain Court Chambers is home to an enviable bench of leading commercial aviation litigators who offer expertise across a wide range of disputes. Members are particularly well regarded for handling airport slot mandates, as well as advising on matters pertaining to product liability, negligence and breaches of competition law. The set represents an impressive roster of major airlines, airports, manufacturers and creditors on a range of financial, contractual and regulatory compliance matters. Members here often appear in hearings before the Civil Aviation Authority. The set offers extensive international capabilities, often acting for clients across Africa and Asia. The set recently advised on the collapse of Thomas Cook, assisting the liquidators to secure slots at major airports.
Client service: "Both the senior and junior clerks are responsive and efficient." Alex Taylor is the senior clerk.
Akhil Shah QC
An in-demand silk who enjoys a reputation for providing clients with well-considered, first-rate legal counsel. Clients appreciate his cerebral and professional demeanour, which he applies to a multitude of aviation cases, including those relating to regulatory and commercial disputes. His expertise ranges from leasing matters to contentious insolvency-related issues.
Strengths: "Akhil is analytical, measured and hugely experienced in aviation disputes." "He's one of the best; he's technically excellent and a very good drafter." "Very responsive, commercial, astute, good with clients and you can trust his judgement."
Recent work: Instructed by the liquidators of Thomas Cook Airlines to assist in securing valuable slots at Gatwick, Manchester and other major airports.
Experienced junior barrister with renowned intellect and clarity of vision. In his multifaceted aviation practice he acts in claims arising from leasing and breach of contract, and has a strong client base among lessors and airlines. He has an excellent ability to effectively handle multi-jurisdictional matters, with his recent work having included the representation of overseas clients in legal issues falling outside of UK law.
Strengths: "Absolutely excellent courtroom skills and very convincing before the judge. He has a strong understanding of the client's commercial needs and is very good at looking at the bigger picture."
Recent work: Instructed by Virgin Atlantic in proceedings relating to slots at Heathrow Airport, arising out of the bankruptcy of Cobalt Airlines.
Bankim Thanki QC
A formidable and heavily in-demand barrister who is also the head of chambers. He is regularly instructed in considerable transactional, commercial and regulatory matters in domestic and international jurisdictions. As well as handling heavyweight contractual disputes, he provides cutting-edge advice to airlines on a raft of regulatory matters.
Strengths: "He's a brilliant advocate, has a very good legal mind and a thoroughly nice person with great interpersonal skills."
Recent work: Acted for the administrators of Monarch Airlines in their application for judicial review of the decision by the UK airport coordinator to not allocate slots to Monarch for the summer 2018 season.
Has substantial experience in aviation-related insurance, regulatory and commercial matters, and represents a wide range of clients including reinsurers, airlines and airports.
Strengths: "He's very responsive, personable, and a good advocate." "An impressive junior."
James Cutress QC
Accomplished practitioner whose diverse caseload often includes appearances in intricate cases relating to leasing and financing disputes. His cases are often international in scope.
Strengths: "Very impressed by his ability to grasp relevant issues. He is a safe pair of hands, especially when we need robust, commercial advice."
Recent work: Acted for Export Development Canada in a dispute concerning the termination of a lease for an aircraft leased by an entity linked to the Gupta family in South Africa.
A regular in substantial commercial aviation disputes and a firm favourite with instructing solicitors, who appreciate his winning manner as well as his considerable intellect. He acts for a client base comprised of various industry bodies, in sophisticated and high-profile cases in the regulatory and insurance spheres.
Strengths: "He's a very clear and succinct drafter." "Really excellent at rolling up his sleeves and getting involved in cases. He is very sensible and good at reading and understanding how to put a case before the judge. He's a great person to have on your team."
Recent work: Instructed on behalf of Airbus in respect of a series of claims and potential claims arising out of a fatal helicopter crash.
John Taylor QC
Operates a broad practice of which aviation represents a substantial part. He applies his vast commercial expertise to matters concerning aircraft leasing, sales and product liability. He tackles a myriad of complex issues arising out of contested lease terminations and regularly tackles a range of high-value aviation litigation and arbitration.
Strengths: "He provides a truly excellent service. He works extremely responsively and is very user-friendly."
Michael McLaren QC
Held in high regard by clients and peers alike for his effective advocacy and zealous work ethic. His practice has a noteworthy commercial edge, with leasing disputes a speciality, but he also regularly acts in matters regarding regulatory issues. He additionally operates in cases arising from headlining air accidents, employing notable multi-jurisdictional expertise.
Strengths: "Extremely hard-working, very industrious, a good team player and incredibly thorough. His advocacy is incredibly robust." "He has a forensic eye for detail on complex disputes and can easily command the room with witnesses and judges. He speaks with an air of confidence and authority."
Recent work: Advised InterJet, a Mexican low-cost carrier, in relation to various issues arising out of its purchase of 30 new Sukhoi SSJ100 aircraft manufactured by Superjet.
Rosalind Phelps QC
A prominent silk who has a burgeoning aviation practice. She is well regarded for her proficiency in matters of particular technical complexity, and regularly handles cases in the financial, commercial and regulatory spheres. She represents airlines in high-value leasing and contractual disputes, and also acts for airports, aviation finance parties and regulatory bodies.
Strengths: "She gives very clear advice, is excellent on her feet and her cross-examination is the best I've seen in court. She's very knowledgeable when it comes to aircraft repossession sales."
Recent work: Appointed as adviser to the Civil Aviation Authority Panel which decided a contested case about the use of aircraft parts. The case required the application of European regulations concerning airworthiness standards and maintenance requirements.
Stephen Moriarty QC
Widely respected for his erudition, he is a lawyer who applies his impressive commercial pedigree to aviation cases. He is particularly adept in matters concerning airport services and delivery obligations.
Strengths: "Extremely efficacious in his work, with a keen understanding of the law and an ability to quickly grasp and explain issues."
Tamara Oppenheimer QC
A popular new silk with a thriving aviation practice, who frequently acts with pre-eminent silks in the highest-profile disputes, and is praised for her cerebral approach to cases. She has worked in a number of aviation-related commercial cases, including those with insurance and product liability issues, and has also handled matters relating to the use of confidential information.
Strengths: "She is first-rate and is a genuine specialist in the area."
Recent work: Acted for Boston Marks Insurance Brokers in a multimillion-pound case in which the claimant sought an indemnity from its insurers under an airline hull, spares and equipment policy following damage to two engines.