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Commentators report that Serle Court is "in so many ways the top chancery and commercial fraud chambers in the country," with its top-tier credentials demonstrated by its members' instructions in some of the most complex and highly watched commercial cases of recent times. The set calls upon a highly talented roster of silks and juniors, who make regular appearances before the highest courts both domestically and in the offshore jurisdictions. "They are one of our chambers of choice for commercial litigation, civil fraud and trusts and probate work," says one source, while another calls it "a strong set with some outstanding individuals."
Client service: "I have found the clerks at Serle Court to be well organised, responsive and extremely helpful." "The clerks are very proactive and engaged – they're a pleasure to work with." Steve Whitaker is the head clerk.
Alan Boyle QC
A powerful advocate and a leading figure of the Commercial Chancery Bar, who is head of chambers. He has a broad practice that takes in company law, fraud and insolvency matters, and is particularly noted for his skill in handling high-value trust litigation.
Strengths: "He's fantastic – he has absolute command of the narrative of his clients' cases."
Recent work: Appeared in Khan v Gany, a dispute concerning a BVI discretionary trust.
Dakis Hagen QC
Has a broad commercial chancery practice, and a very good reputation in the marketplace. Sources particularly highlight him for combining client care skills with technical and commercial intelligence. His practice takes in cases concerning trusts, allegations of fraud or professional negligence and asset tracing.
Strengths: "He has very extensive knowledge and is a very nice guy. He's exceptionally bright." "He's got it all. He's one of the brightest people I know, but you also know you're getting his full commitment to the case."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the claimant in Barker v Baxendale Walker Solicitors, in litigation concerning the defective establishment of an EBT structure designed to hold shares in an IT company.
Daniel Lightman QC
A highly technical silk with a substantial company, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty practice. He is singled out by barristers and solicitors as an excellent choice for technically complicated matters. His practice also includes trust litigation, professional negligence claims and insolvency.
Strengths: "He has an unparalleled grasp of the law and is technically superb. He has a sharp intellect and is an all-round excellent choice for chancery business." "He's very passionate, bright and collaborative."
Recent work: Represented Jasminder Singh, the CEO of Edwardian Hotels, in responding to a Section 994 petition presented by his brother and by a trust company connected to him.
David Blayney QC
A technically very strong silk with the ability to lead a team effectively. He works on legally and factually complicated matters, and in recent times has been focused on the RBS Rights Issue litigation. His practice has a particular focus on disputes involving complex financial or quantum issues.
Strengths: "He's very strong in technology and a very clever guy. He's also nice to work with."
Recent work: Advised on issues related to the RBS Rights Issue litigation, a group litigation claim brought by more than 20,000 individual and institutional claimants in relation to the bank's GBP12 billion rights issue in 2008.
A senior junior whose commercial chancery practice includes fraud and breach of fiduciary duty matters. Sources highlight his experience of acting in cases involving pharmaceutical companies. His work often has an international element.
Strengths: "David is excellent with technical detail and grasps highly complex issues quickly. He's very responsive and trusted." "He's exceptionally bright, very commercial and flexible. His advocacy style is great and he's easy to work with."
Recent work: Instructed by the NHS in a damages claim of more than GBP200 million arising from allegations that the largest private pharmaceutical company in France used fraud to obtain patents for a popular prescription drug.
Dominic Dowley QC
Popular with solicitors, he has a strong fraud practice and is also adept at handling large trust cases with important commercial implications. He is described as a measured advocate who interacts well with commercial clients. Source note his offshore and international capabilities, as evidenced by his appearances in the Middle East, the USA and Europe.
Strengths: "He has a great bedside manner and is a quietly effective advocate." "He is superb. He's very authoritative and so masterful at explaining difficult concepts to a client."
Recent work: Appeared in Novoship v Mikhaylyuk, arising out of alleged international shipping fraud and involving remedies for breach of fiduciary duty and dishonest assistance in breach of trust.
Elizabeth Jones QC
An excellent litigator, praised both for her formidable courtroom presence and for her ability to run a case. She has a broad commercial chancery practice, with a particular focus on company law. She regularly works in offshore jurisdictions and has extensive experience of international disputes.
Strengths: "She's an extremely good silk. She's extremely friendly and nice, but coldly efficient when needed."
Does good work in fraud and company law cases, and also has a strong trusts practice. His work often has an international or offshore element, and he regularly works in the Channel Islands and the Caribbean.
Strengths: "He's an effective advocate."
Recent work: Appeared in Morina v Sherbakov, an international probate and asset tracing matter with proceedings in England, the BVI, Belgium, Singapore and Russia for the former wife of a deceased Russian oligarch.
Hugh Norbury QC
Focuses on cases involving fraud or breach of fiduciary duty. Sources single out his client skills and technical abilities for particular credit and praise him for his contentious trusts and offshore work. His practice also takes in insolvency and breach of director's duties matters.
Strengths: "He can roll up his sleeves and get involved in a messy case with murky facts. He never took a bad point."
Recent work: Appeared in Bureau Solutions v Uzun, a dispute arising out of the terms of a sale and purchase agreement alleging Mr Uzun and his companies conspired to breach the agreement and to misuse confidential information by setting up a rival business using the claimant’s software.
As well as fraud and insolvency matters, Mather works on partnership and company law, and general commercial chancery litigation. He is well liked among solicitors for the contribution he brings to a team and is especially praised for his written work. He is also instructed in cases concerning shareholder disputes, asset recovery and domestic and offshore trusts.
Strengths: "A strong and convincing advocate."
Recent work: Defended an English fund management company against a claim by an SPV of the American private equity firm Cerberus seeking to wind up a substantial Italian investment fund.
A capable junior who wins approval from those who have worked with him. He is strategically capable and a good advocate, who is praised for his interactions with clients. He handles a broad range of chancery cases from professional negligence and Inheritance Act claims to contractual and property disputes.
Strengths: "A very strong junior who drafts beautifully. He's sharp, very good on his feet and works all hours."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the State Bank of Mauritius in a claim arising out of a USD30 million fraud, with Weale appearing in the DIFC court as a sole advocate to successfully obtain a freezing order.
John Machell QC
A strong commercial chancery silk with an excellent reputation for his partnership work. He carries out both advisory work and litigation and is regarded as a hard-working and technically astute practitioner.
Strengths: "John Machell is one of the leading lights in the partnership arena. We generally turn to him because he's one of the leaders in his field." "He's very cerebral, a good advocate and good in terms of strategic thinking and advising clients."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of the respondents in Grupo Mexico v Pearse Trust International, in a claim for rectification of the Companies Register. The case involves fraud allegations and allegations that proceedings being prosecuted in Mexico are an abuse of process.
Jonathan Adkin QC
A popular silk with a substantial commercial chancery practice. He has a significant international element to his work and is regarded as a capable advocate and cross-examiner. Adkin also regularly acts in domestic and international arbitrations.
Strengths: "He is quite commercial in his approach and good at dismantling witnesses effectively. He's very effective." "He's authoritative and very persuasive in court."
Recent work: Appeared in Safestyle v Safeglaze, a multimillion-pound Chancery Division case involving breaches of fiduciary duty, breaches of IP rights and alleged theft of confidential information.
Justin Higgo QC
A personable and effective new silk who is regarded as a sensible and capable litigator. He has a broad practice and acts in valuable, high-profile commercial chancery cases. He also has particular experience of working on breach of contract cases in the art world.
Strengths: "He is a level-headed, commercially astute barrister." "An outstanding, brilliant lawyer – very much a team player. He is extremely collaborative, and not easily intimidated by problems."
Recent work: Appeared in a claim by a Swiss investment fund for losses caused to investments in Turkish pharmaceutical companies by breaches of fiduciary duty of a former solicitor.
Lance Ashworth QC
An efficient and effective silk who works particularly in the areas of civil fraud and insolvency, and often handles matters with an international flavour. He is respected for his ability to undertake large cases with lots of factual detail. Ashworth has experience handling hedge fund and professional negligence claims and unfair prejudice petitions.
Strengths: "He had a firm grasp of the matter and was an excellent, inspiring advocate." "He is extremely bright, gives clear and robust advice, and is very strong on his feet. He is also a delight to work with and very approachable."
Recent work: Acted for the defendants in Wright & Shannon v Hill & Impact Property Development, in a claim alleging a joint venture or partnership in respect of a large piece of development land in Rickmansworth.
Concentrates on company, partnership and insolvency law. He is regarded as a helpful and intelligent junior who is easy to work with and good to put in front of clients. Sources report on his "really good reputation" for contentious trusts and offshore work and "detailed knowledge and understanding" of fiduciary duties.
Strengths: "He's excellent at shareholder disputes and very client-friendly." "He is exceptionally clever and is able to grasp what is important and think of new, fresh ideas and arguments. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and retained a good sense of humour through a difficult trial."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of BES Utilities to bring claims against two individuals who had conducted an online campaign alleging the company was engaged in fraudulent mis-selling and incited customers to cancel direct debits and otherwise breach their contracts.
Philip Jones QC
A highly respected silk with an exceptionally broad practice, focused primarily on company and commercial chancery matters. A barrister of choice for high-profile and highly complex matters.
Strengths: "Philip is very impressive and extremely knowledgeable on commercial and company matters. He is very clever and responsive. He has an excellent manner and style of communicating complex and difficult concepts to the judge. He is also a pleasure to deal with."
Recent work: Appeared in Ng Man-Sun v Chen Mei Huan, a dispute arising out of a share sale transaction concerning a BVI company which ultimately owns the New Century Hotel in Macau.
Philip Marshall QC
A technically able silk with a highly effective advocacy style. He is instructed on civil fraud, art law, professional negligence, company and insolvency work, both domestically and offshore.
Strengths: "He's very effective and extremely well known." "A very forceful advocate."
Recent work: Acted for Mr Shlosberg in Avonwick v Shlosberg, a USD100 million claim for conspiracy to defraud creditors and to set aside preferences.
Rupert Reed QC
A noted leader in both commercial and pure chancery matters. His highly respected practice is focused on commercial agreements. He is a particularly fine choice of counsel for Middle Eastern work.
Strengths: "He's a good guy who has a terrific grasp on tactics. He remains a good team player and collaborates well with his juniors and the solicitor’s team."
Recent work: Acted for Princess Al Jawharah, the wife of the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, in resisting claims to her property by a Liechtensteiner foundation.
A popular junior who gives pragmatic and clear-sighted advice. His practice includes civil fraud and breach of fiduciary duty cases, and he has acted in the substantial RBS Rights Issue litigation centred on an allegedly misleading prospectus.
Strengths: "His great strengths are a real ability to comprehensively digest material and to find the cracks. He's one to choose when you have a forensic fraud case and need someone to pick out inconsistencies."
Recent work: Acted for the claimants in a GBP30 million dispute arising out of the purchase of a portfolio of solar farms in 2017, alleging there were a number of known serious defects in the design and construction of the solar farms which were not disclosed by the vendors.
Timothy Collingwood QC
Works in all areas of commercial chancery, especially those with a company law element. Sources describe him as being technically sharp and an effective advocate. He is regularly instructed in cases concerning commercial agreements and company, insolvency and international trusts issues.
Strengths: "Tim is extremely responsive, diligent and clever. His written work is thorough and consistently excellent. In court he was well prepared and he performed well." "He has a fantastic attitude and is a complete team player."
Recent work: Represented an investment company in proceedings against a director and joint venture partner for breach of duty and diversion of business opportunities concerning a German property investment.