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Wilberforce is recognised as an "extremely high-end chancery set" and one "that is obviously excellent and blessed with a great range of barristers." It has some of the leading silks in the market on board, along with "very bright and able juniors, some of whom are up to silk level themselves in terms of the expertise and knowledge they have." The set has grown more than any other in the market over the past decade, during which time areas such as insolvency have been fostered in order to complement its long-standing strength in commercial litigation, trusts, pensions and civil fraud cases. As ever, the set attracts high-value, complex matters, many of which are international in nature. Recent examples of work undertaken include the Supreme Court case of Abela v Baadarani, the Bitel litigation, and the very high-profile matter of AHAB v Saad Investment Company. In commenting on the barristers here, one solicitor states: "They are incredibly commercial in their outlook. I like them because of this but also because they are down-to-earth and can speak the client's language."
Client service: "The clerks always know the right person to connect you with and they are very helpful. They always try and make things work." Head clerk Mark Rushton is especially praised for being an "excellent operator" who has "global reach and a clear understanding of key offshore markets."
Alan Gourgey QC
A popular member of the Commercial Chancery Bar, who is particularly praised for his "second to none" work ethic and his ability to handle top-flight cases. His expertise includes civil fraud, insolvency and banking litigation as well as international arbitration.
Strengths: "Truly phenomenal on his feet. He is someone who is very numerical and very good at mastering a high level of detail. When he presents to the court he makes devastating points in a simple, understated way." "He is very dynamic, has an excellent commercial mindset, and is someone who gives very effective, hands-on, clever advice."
Recent work: Acted in a USD400 million dispute concerning the enforcement of a Nigerian arbitration award.
A well-liked junior with a broad chancery practice, who is effective in fraud and breach of fiduciary duty cases. He is admired for the quality of his advice and advocacy. His work also includes property, pensions and partnership disputes.
Strengths: "Incredibly detailed, he thinks of every possible eventuality." "He has good intellectual capability and is exceptional on paper. He can dissect really complex points in a way which the court can readily follow."
Recent work: Acted in a dispute over how a property business should be split between two sides of a warring family.
A hard-working junior whose practice encompasses breach of fiduciary duty, trusts and company law cases, among others. He is noted for his suitability for large and document-heavy cases.
Strengths: "Thinks of everything and is incredibly considered in his approach. His drafting style is just excellent; he is very clear and conscious of giving full-detailed advice to clients. He is incredibly good at being on top of all technicalities and strategically he understands what clients want to achieve."
Recent work: Acted for one of the parties in a joint venture dispute concerning allegations of breach of fiduciary duty and breach of trust. The joint venture involved the development of high-end properties in Mayfair.
Fenner Moeran QC
Praised as a modest and straightforward QC with a direct and effective advocacy style. He handles commercial chancery cases of many different stripes, many of which involve company law, fraud and pensions issues.
Strengths: "Positively effervescent with enthusiasm and a man who has good ideas. You definitely want to have him on your side because he will really drive a case forward." "He is quick and a good judge of how the court will respond."
Has particular expertise in offshore cases in the Cayman Islands, where he was a partner in a leading firm for several years. He is praised as a clever and experienced advocate.
Strengths: "A very strong advocate who is hard-working, user-friendly, knowledgeable and insightful."
Recent work: Acted in Meridian v Batista, a case concerning a worldwidefreezing injunction against Eike Batista, a Brazilian oil magnate once ranked seventh on the Forbes rich list. The matter revolved around an elaborate and complex oil fraud.
A Russian speaker with a good reputation for commercial chancery work. His practice has a particular focus on fraud and insolvency matters.
Strengths: "Got a very good eye for detail and has a very good grasp of legal issues. He is able to exploit the other side's deficiencies or mistakes quite ruthlessly." "Incredibly bright, extremely deep-thinking and extremely well prepared, he puts cases forward in an extremely effective way and understands complicated issues."
Recent work: Acted for two defendants in a case concerning claims of alleged civil fraud in relation to the running of a foundation school.
Ian Croxford QC
A powerful advocate with a good deal of experience in the commercial chancery world. His practice has a particularly prominent civil fraud strand. He also has extensive experience of dealing with high-profile professional negligence cases against solicitors, accountants and stockbrokers.
Strengths: "A most persuasive advocate who is extremely clever and extremely likeable as an opponent." "He is really smooth and has a really conversational style with the judge."
James Ayliffe QC
Has a broad commercial chancery practice, and has handled many joint venture and real property cases. He is regarded as very thorough and measured in his approach, and is also recognised for his work on professional negligence, real estate and contentious trust matters.
Strengths: "Someone who can be relied upon to anticipate what judges are going to say; he is extremely good in court. He's very good at reading judges and he really knows the legal background incredibly well." "His drafting is strong and he is also good strategically."
Recent work: Represented the defendant, a major US engineering company, in a multimillion-pound claim for breach of conditional contract for the sale and purchase of land for the construction of a new manufacturing facility in England.
Acts in a variety of commercial chancery matters, including company law, fraud and insolvency cases. Sources regard him as a strong candidate for silk. He has a strong international practice acting in cases concerning the USA, Switzerland, Italy, Hong Kong and Japan.
Strengths: "An excellent advocate who commands a courtroom; he is very bright and good with clients." "He's very good in conference as he is very direct and doesn't sit on the fence. He very much works alongside you and is very supportive."
Recent work: Acted in a multi-jurisdictional dispute between the two partners in an international architectural practice pertaining to its dissolution.
A bright and well-regarded junior with a broad commercial chancery practice. Sources praise him for his technical ability and his willingness to work hard. His cases often involve property, pensions or trusts.
Strengths: "A real brainbox who gets on with clients very well and has a great sense of humour." "A very academic lawyer who knows all the relevant law, he simplifies and explains legal arguments very well."
Recent work: Represented United Utilities in a matter concerning its ability to charge the owners of Liverpool and Birkenhead Docks for sewerage charges.
Joanna Smith QC
Has a strong commercial chancery practice that takes in professional negligence and insolvency matters. Her cases often involve novel or subtle points of law, and a number of them go to appeal. She is also experienced in both domestic and international arbitration.
Strengths: "A cracking team player who comes to the table without any ego." "She is excellent and very clear on her feet."
Recent work: Acted for the defendant solicitors in a professional negligence claim alleging failure to report to clients on the content of a Plansearch report during the conveyancing of a GBP25 million London property.
John Wardell QC
A highly thought-of barrister with a good reputation for fraud and professional negligence work in particular. Sources describe him as an excellent advocate and a good team player. He also often handles claims for breach of trust and breach of fiduciary duty.
Strengths: "A ferocious cross-examiner. He is robust and incisive and has a very good instinct as a litigator."
Recent work: Instructed in a dispute arising out of the demerger of a group of property companies.
Lawrence Cohen QC
An experienced commercial chancery silk who leads substantial and complicated matters to successful conclusions. His recent caseload has involved a significant element of shareholder dispute work and an international aspect.
Strengths: "He's incredibly decisive and always up to speed on new developments in the law."
Lexa Hilliard QC
A respected silk whose practice includes company and fraud disputes, and who is particularly known for her insolvency work. Sources praise her for her technical ability and practicality. She also regularly handles arbitration and advises on offshore disputes.
Strengths: "Really distinguishes herself with her paperwork and seems to have a real knack for anticipating points that judges are going to raise. She is a good person to go to if you want to avoid court or know how best to maximise your position."
Recent work: Acted in a claim for an injunction to restrain the defendant, a Chinese incorporated company, from breaching a settlement agreement and making threats of violence against the claimant’s officers.
Terence Mowschenson QC
A senior silk with a strong reputation for his "encyclopaedic" knowledge of the law and all-round commercial chancery expertise. He sits as a deputy High Court judge in the Chancery and Queen's Bench divisions.
Strengths: "There is almost no area of chancery law he doesn't know about. In addition, he cares about his clients and he cares about the case." "A charming advocate whom judges really like to listen to. His written work is to the point and economical; there is no surplus. He is very good at explaining things simply and inspiring confidence in clients."
Recent work: Instructed in a dispute over ownership of 20% of the shareholding of one of Russia’s largest airlines.
Thomas Lowe QC
Has a strong reputation for offshore commercial chancery work, particularly in the Cayman Islands, and is described by one solicitor as "an international superstar in cross-border insolvency." He is admitted in both the BVI and the Cayman Islands.
Strengths: "An excellent operator who is incredibly user-friendly and a go-to silk for offshore work."
Recent work: Acted in AHAB v Saad Investment Company, a case concerning the largest ever Ponzi scheme which defrauded victims of USD350 billion.
A well-liked junior with an aptitude for technically complicated legal issues. His practice includes both pensions and insolvency cases, as well as other general commercial chancery work. Robinson regularly appears in offshore cases.
Strengths: "Has a very efficient, linear mind and structures his arguments extremely well." "He's extremely bright and makes everything easy to work through, even if it's complex – nothing rattles him. Very organised in his approach, he knows exactly what he's doing and when he's doing it."
Recent work: Acted in Camden Market Holdings Corp & Others v Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, a claim for damages for breach of an implied term in the banking documentation of a now insolvent Irish bank.