Leading Sets by Number of Rankings
Ranked in 21 practice areas
Kings Chambers is a standout set on the Northern, North Eastern and Midlands circuits, and is considered the first port of call for leading solicitor firms across these regions thanks to the “technically excellent and commercially aware advice provided by the barristers” and “wide variety of expertise” available within chambers. The set is home to several leading barristers who regularly undertake high value and complex commercial disputes, including star silk Lesley Anderson QC who is praised by instructing solicitors as “bright, hardworking and an excellent advocate.” Kings’ list of standout commercial counsel also includes “fearsome cross-examiner” Paul Chaisty QC, who remains a go-to barrister for complex professional negligence, partnership and chancery disputes, and “fantastic trial lawyer” Eleanor Temple, who offers expertise in banking and insolvency matters. Among the set’s impressive bench of junior barristers, the “excellent and highly knowledgeable” Sarah Clover is also more than worthy of mention. Based in the set’s Birmingham office, Clover remains the only star-ranked junior on the Midlands circuit for licensing work. In addition to boasting a strong reputation for commercial work, the set is also highly regarded for its expertise in complex personal injury and clinical negligence matters. Leading barristers handling this type of work include the “very clear and concise” Nigel Poole QC, the set’s current head of chambers, and the “confident and tactically aware” Michael Rawlinson QC, who recently took a lead role in Bussey v Anglia Heating, a major case heard in the Court of Appeal with wide reaching consequences for sufferers of mesothelioma. King’s Chambers is also recognised in this year’s guide for its expert representation of clients in public law matters and planning and environmental disputes, where leading silk Vincent Fraser QC draws particular praise for his “excellent advocacy skills and good eye for strategy.”
Ranked in 20 practice areas
39 Essex Chambers
A powerhouse in London, 39 Essex Chambers has an extraordinarily deep bench of senior and junior barristers who are recognised for their excellence across a broad range of practice areas. Sources note that “the strength and depth of the set’s barristers is second to none” and praise the “outstanding service” provided by the set, adding: “Everyone there, including the clerks, is so personable and responsive - they make you feel that counsel, instructing solicitors and the clerks are all working as part of one team.” Key areas of focus for the set include community care matters and disputes concerning health and welfare in the Court of Protection, leading one instructing solicitor to note that “when you instruct a barrister at 39 Essex Chambers in relation to a Court of Protection matter, you know you are getting the best of the best.” Vikram Sachdeva QC is described “a leading silk for Court of Protection welfare cases,” while star junior Alexander Ruck Keene and new silk Victoria Butler-Cole also draw considerable praise for their handling of medical treatment and capacity disputes. 39 Essex is also home to several leading barristers in the personal injury and professional discipline fields, including the “very effective advocate” David Bradly, who retains his reputation as one of the top professional discipline juniors in London, and star personal injury junior Christian Du Cann, who is described by instructing solicitors as “a senior junior of QC standard and a very gifted advocate.” For construction matters, the set can offer “the very smart and pragmatic” Stuart Catchpole QC, who is highly regarded for his representation of clients in both domestic disputes and complex international arbitrations. Another of the set’s standout senior barristers, Stephen Tromans QC, is hailed by sources as “unquestionably the number one silk in the country for environmental disputes.” The set also offers significant strength in public law and human rights matters. The “hugely experienced and knowledgeable” Nigel Plemming QC and “very persuasive” Jenni Richards QC are just two of the set’s “top quality practitioners” who handle these types of matters.
Ranked in 19 practice areas
The quality of the barristers available at Matrix Chambers is regularly mentioned by instructing solicitors when discussing the strengths of the set: “Matrix Chambers has some of the cleverest barristers around,” says one interviewee, who further adds that “whenever a case involves a really tricky point of law, Matrix is always first choice.” The “phenomenally clever” Phillippa Kaufmann QC and “fantastic advocate” Richard Hermer QC are among the set’s barristers who remain highly regarded for their expertise in public law and human rights matters, while standout junior Chris Buttler is “tipped for stardom” according to impressed sources. Employment and education are also key areas of focus for the set, and Matrix boasts a deep bench of experienced practitioners who specialise in these areas. The “extremely bright” Karon Monaghan QC “absolutely knows her stuff as far as discrimination is concerned,” and the “absolutely marvellous” Thomas Linden QC is “a real superstar in the employment field.” The set also has a strong reputation at the Criminal Bar, where Clare Montgomery QC stands out for her vast expertise which spans crime, financial crime and POCA matters. Matrix Chambers is primarily known for its representation of claimants and has been involved in some of the most high-profile and legally challenging cases of recent years. Two key judicial reviews recently handled by the set include R (DSD and NBV) v Parole Board, a review challenging the release of ‘black cab rapist’ John Worboys, and R (Da Silva) v Chair of the Undercover Policing Inquiry, a case brought against the Chair of the Undercover Policing inquiry in relation to his decision to grant anonymity to police officers. Solicitors note that the set is consistently involved in “a lot of amazing cases,” noting that “its barristers are always ahead of the game” and “are consistently overturning legislation and actually moving the law on.” Solicitors say: “From the clerks to the QCs, everyone at the set is excellent and it’s a very approachable chambers.”
Ranked in 17 practice areas
Blackstone Chambers is praised as a “very professional and very user-friendly set,” and impresses instructing solicitors with “the outstanding quality of advice” provided by its counsel. Hailed by commentators as “the clear market leader for public law matters,” the set has retained its top-tier rankings for both its administrative and public law and civil liberties and human rights offerings. Instructing solicitors are spoiled for choice as the set’s outstanding bench of specialists in these areas includes “profoundly insightful advocate” Lord Pannick QC, the “incredibly impressive” Sir James Eadie QC, the “perennially excellent” Dinah Rose QC and Michael Fordham QC, who is praised by interviewees for his “outstanding mastery of his cases and incredibly persuasive advocacy.” The set also houses a number of senior and junior barristers with expertise in immigration, EU law, competition law, telecommunications, environmental law and professional discipline. Blackstone is also regarded as a go-to chambers in the financial services market, thanks in no small part to star silks Javan Herberg QC, who is described by sources as “the leading silk for FCA enforcement matters,” and “the commercial and pragmatic” Charles Flint QC. The set also stands out for its handling of high-value commercial disputes. Its deep bench of highly regarded practitioners in this area includes such luminaries as Robert Anderson QC, Ian Mill QC and Leona Powell. Mill is described by his instructing solicitors as “an excellent strategist and a compelling advocate” and he remains the top-choice barrister for the most challenging disputes in the media and entertainment sector. Finally, no write up of Blackstone Chambers would be complete without mention of its outstanding employment law practice. Star silk Paul Goulding QC, a leading light at the Employment Bar, is “phenomenal at whistleblowing work,” according to impressed interviewees, while Jane Mulcahy QC is “set apart by the fact that she’s so brilliantly empathetic with clients.”
Ranked in 14 practice areas
Doughty Street Chambers
Doughty Street Chambers enjoys a well-deserved reputation for excellence across numerous areas of public law, including community care, social housing, immigration and human rights. The set also possesses a strong roster of barristers handling the defence of criminal cases and extradition requests, with additional ability to provide representation in defamation proceedings. Furthermore, the set receives superlative praise for its work in bringing high-profile claims against the police, with one instructing solicitor saying: “The team really is second to none and always a first port of call for me because they are determined and committed to human rights, equality before the law and justice against the state.” Barristers at the set also frequently represent claimants in personal injury and clinical negligence matters, as well as individuals and families in the Court of Protection and during inquests and public inquiries. Doughty Street is home to a number of barristers who receive Chambers rankings as star individuals, such as the expert criminal defence silk and “king of extradition law” Edward Fitzgerald QC, and Heather Williams QC, whom sources describe as “the authoritative voice on police law.” Star juniors include police law specialist Ruth Brander, who is described by one source as “the best junior barrister at the Bar,” Laura Dubinsky, who “is just brilliant at immigration law,” and the “absolutely excellent” Jamie Burton, who is a noted expert in social housing matters. The set’s deep bench affords Doughty Street a reputation for having “a phenomenal range of expertise and some of the best minds in the country,” and similar praise is lavished on the clerking team for its ability to marshal such a group. “They bend over backwards to help me, and can cover all my needs,” one instructing solicitor reports, with another adding: “The clerks are on top of their work and are very responsive.”
Ranked in 13 practice areas
Brick Court Chambers
Brick Court Chambers tops the rankings in four categories this year and continues to be highly rated for its deep bench of experienced silks and juniors tackling a wide range of practice areas, from banking to telecommunications law. Members act for clients based in the UK, in several offshore jurisdictions and across Africa and the Middle East. They deal with all manner of cases, from public law and human rights challenges to professional negligence actions. The set “has bags of talent” in competition law, and the “incredibly incisive” Marie Demetriou QC and “intellectual powerhouse” Mark Hoskins QC have both achieved the coveted star individual status in our rankings this year. European law continues to be a standout area of expertise for several barristers at Brick Court, and the venerable David Anderson QC has been involved in many of the leading cases in this area, including Canary Wharf Group v European Medicines Agency. The “phenomenal” Maya Lester QC is another of Brick Court’s top EU law silks. She is a particular specialist in sanctions work, of which she is described as “the queen.” Barristers at this “exceptional set” are equipped to handle all manner of challenging commercial litigation, as well as arbitrations, and instructions come from well-known names in the energy and insurance sectors. Helen Davies QC is one of the set’s big names handling “very high level and big ticket” energy and other commercial matters. The “legendary” Mark Howard QC and “very fine advocate” Tim Lord QC are particular standouts for banking disputes.
No5 Barristers Chambers
No5 Barristers’ Chambers operates from bases in Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester and London, and holds nine top-tier rankings for the Midlands Circuit. Both the quality of the No5 barristers and the breadth of their legal expertise is remarked upon by many of our sources. As one enthusiastic commentator puts it, “not many chambers have so many well regarded barristers together in one place.” In fact, another interviewee even told us that No5 is so good that “it is hard to compare it to any other chambers.” The set fields a number of experts in personal injury disputes, including Paul Bleasdale QC, “one of the best QCs in the Midlands,” and several well-regarded employment barristers, such as Helen Barney, who is praised for her “endless skills.” Other holders of a coveted band one ranking include family law expert Stephanie Brown, whom one client describes as “simply the best financial remedy barrister in the Midlands." Clients also flock to No5 for its strength in commercial and property litigation, and the set continues to be a go-to for those needing top-notch representation in criminal cases.
Ranked in 12 practice areas
Essex Court Chambers
One of the leading sets in London for commercial dispute resolution, Essex Court Chambers has an outstanding track record in both litigation and international arbitration proceedings, with barristers at the set instructed in a wide range of disputes involving civil fraud, employment and banking, among other areas. The set’s capacity for international work is also assured by its many experts who are ranked in offshore and public international law, and demonstrated through its instructions in a wide variety of high-value, multi-jurisdictional matters concerning shipping, energy and insurance. Across all these matters, the set is applauded for its “consistently high standards of professionalism, meticulous attention to detail, sophistication in strategic matters and its courteous and co-operative attitude.” Head of chambers David Foxton QC remains exceptionally well-regarded as “the go-to advocate for the biggest, most complex cases,” and receives plaudits for his skills as an arbitrator. Similarly impressive is Joe Smouha QC, considered a “first choice trial advocate,” who demonstrates a “mastery of the law” across all manner of commercial, banking and civil fraud disputes. Juniors at the set are also showered with praise, particularly “silk in waiting” Tim Akkouh, ranked as a star in civil fraud, and James Willan, of whom one instructing solicitor says: “He is head and shoulders above the rest – amazingly hard working and a superb intellect.” Sources also appreciate the “outstanding and very user-friendly” clerking team, particularly senior clerk Joe Ferrigno, who is described by one instructing solicitor as “the best in the business.”
Wilberforce Chambers is widely known for its “distinguished” commercial and traditional chancery offering but is perhaps chiefly renowned as “the go-to set for pensions issues.” Instructing solicitors add that “other chambers have one or two stand out pension specialists, but none have the strength and depth of Wilberforce.” Furthermore, interviewees add, “counsel at the set are reliable and have a real star quality, and there’s a fantastic choice at silk level.” Top silks such as Brian Green QC and Michael Tennett QC lead the vanguard, whilst the set can also boast a solid contingent of experienced juniors to uphold its strong track record in the field. No less impressive is chambers’ comprehensive capability in offshore work, where its members are called to the Bar in numerous jurisdictions and frequently take on the most sophisticated work around. The case of AHAB v SAAD, the largest ever heard in the Cayman Islands, called for the talents of Wilberforce stalwarts Tom Lowe QC and John Wardell QC, who opposed each other, as well as ‘up and comer’ Jack Watson, who appears in our guide for the first time this year. Wilberforce moves up a band in our professional negligence table this year in recognition of its formidable bench of leading silks such as Joanna Smith QC and Ian Croxford QC, who practise at the cutting edge of this area. The set is additionally recognized by Chambers for its considerable expertise in property litigation, fraud, tax and other areas. Loyal clients are attracted by the superior client service offered by the set in addition to its barristers’ success in litigation: “It is a very professional outfit,” according to interviewees, who add that “the conferences they put on are exceptional – the best attended in London.” Practice director Nicholas Luckman is said to be “a man with incredible vision and great client skills,” and “possibly the best clerk in any chambers.”
Ranked in 11 practice areas
4 Pump Court
Clients turn to 4 Pump Court for its comprehensive grasp of the technology sector, coupled with the remarkable commercial acumen held by its “deep pool of very talented barristers.” It is a “high calibre set,” according to clients, which “has the edge over its rivals given its excellent clerking and highly personable service.” Chambers has long been notable for possessing the London Bar’s most complete set of experts in information technology disputes. Its cadre of top silks and juniors are invariably instructed in the event of catastrophic IT system failure, or heavyweight contractual disputes between providers and users. The set recently assembled a crack team, consisting of Alex Charton QC and star junior Matthew Lavy, to prosecute BA’s £70 million claim for an IT collapse which led to the cancellation of flights worldwide. The barristers are also a force to be reckoned with in the construction and engineering industries. Star individual Sean Brannigan QC leads a team which is equally capable in contract litigation, international arbitration and professional negligence claims brought against architects and engineers. 4 Pump Court also attracts plaudits for its strong command of the related areas of shipping and up-, mid- and downstream energy work, as well as legal and financial sector professional negligence. Members of 4 Pump Court are praised for being “down to earth and adaptable,” whilst the “consistently excellent” clerks, led by Carl Wall and Stewart Gibbs, are said to be “user-friendly, responsive and exceptionally commercial in agreeing fees.” In particular, deputy senior clerk Oliver Miney is singled out as “an incredibly commercial clerk who has helped the set come on in leaps and bounds.”
Fountain Court Chambers
Fountain Court Chambers remains without doubt one of the cornerstones of the Commercial Bar. It possesses a reputation for quality amongst banks and other large corporations which is unsurpassed, and its members are considered “the best barristers that the English Bar has to offer,” constituting a “fabulous mix of legal expertise and commerciality.” The set is “right out in front in terms of the consistency of its talent,” according to interviewees, whilst its clerks, led by the “thoroughly modern and forward-thinking” Alex Taylor, are said to be “genuine facilitators between solicitors and counsel.” The set’s deep commitment to the financial services sector is demonstrated by the breadth of expertise offered by its barristers, and the chambers can field an unbeatable array of market-leading counsel to tackle practically any form of legal challenge facing those in the industry. The set is a key destination for all manner of litigation relating to the manipulation of LIBOR and EURIBOR rates, financial product mis-selling and other banking matters, and has a particular flair for complicated fraud-related cases involving both civil and criminal law elements. Chambers’ distinguished silks, including star individuals David Railton QC, Bankim Thanki QC and Richard Handyside QC, consistently attract instruction in many of the most widely publicized cases in the sector, such as the Court of Appeal cases of Law Debenture v Ukraine and Property Alliance Group v RBS, and the massive RBS Rights Issue and Tchenguiz matters, disputes which have rumbled on since the height of the financial crisis. Chambers continues to lead the field in the regulatory sphere: Richard Lissack QC secured the acquittal of Barclays in the transatlantic investigations into Qatar’s investment in the bank, whilst Patricia Robertson QC achieved an historic result in her successful defence of proceedings against Leigh Day LLP following the Al-Sweady Inquiry. Elsewhere, the set offers highly credible expertise in insurance and professional negligence work, and is also notable for having cornered the market in the niche area of aviation finance litigation.
Maitland Chambers is “very much in the premier league” of commercial chancery sets. As one solicitor remarks, “they know everything you need to know about corporate and trusts law.” With 23 ranked barristers practicing in this area, the set is home to several leading chancery silks, including the “simply excellent” Christopher Pymont QC who has “a brilliant strategic mind and a commanding courtroom presence.” Maitland’s highly respected collection of commercial chancery juniors includes the “extremely effective” Benjamin John and the “incredibly bright” Thomas Munby. The set also receives top-tier rankings in the related areas of civil fraud and offshore disputes. Members are often involved in high-profile matters across the Caribbean and the Channel Islands, such as the long-running Tchenguiz trust litigation. Solicitors are also quick to praise the set’s credentials in company law matters, with one saying that it is “the go-to chambers for company disputes.” Among the set’s strong bench of company law experts, Catherine Newman QC is picked out as a “doyenne of the Bar.” Home to a “great range of barristers at different levels of seniority,” Maitland also earns rankings in our charities, partnership, real estate litigation, restructuring and insolvency, traditional chancery, commercial dispute resolution and professional negligence tables.
A “first-choice set” for competition and EU law, Monckton Chambers also earns top-tier rankings for its indirect tax and telecommunications expertise. It is also widely considered one of “the leading public procurement disputes chambers.” The set houses an enviable bench of competition and EU experts including Daniel Beard QC, who is described by market sources as “a leading competition silk with profound knowledge of competition law issues, case law and procedure.” Top-ranked Gerry Facenna QC has quickly risen the rankings owing to his “really pragmatic approach” to EU law. Anneli Howard, whom a solicitor describes as “one of the leading juniors of her generation,” has the distinction of being ranked in the highest tier for both disciplines. The set is regularly called on by public bodies and international corporations to act in cases which address the most pressing issues of the day. The “premier competition silk” Jon Turner QC has recently represented household names including National Grid and British Airways. On behalf of Chris Leslie MP and Tom Brake MP, members successfully argued at the CJEU that the UK’s notice under Article 50 is unilaterally revocable. Monckton Chambers’ “excellent barristers” are also recognised this year for their work in community care, administrative and public law, civil liberties and human rights, data protection, environment and sports law.
Ranked in 10 practice areas
3 Verulam Buildings
There is perhaps no financial and legal hub in the world quite as developed and influential as the City of London, and 3 Verulam Buildings is arguably an indispensable asset with respect to its continued pre-eminence. The set continues its long-standing reign at the peak of the civil fraud rankings, retains its place at the top of the banking and finance rankings, and this year climbed to the highest band in both commercial dispute resolution and financial services law. 3VB also receives renewed approbation for members' work in the fields of information technology, commercial chancery, insurance, international arbitration (general commercial and insurance), offshore and professional negligence law. Among the advocates most sought-after by instructing solicitors are Adrian Beltrami QC, described by one source as “an intellectual giant and tremendously hardworking”; Ali Malek QC, who is considered “particularly strong on strategy” and “an effective advocate trusted by judges”; head of chambers Ewan McQuater QC, “who really is hot stuff – a trial advocate through and through”; and senior junior Michael Lazarus, “a fantastic legal brain and a hardworking team player”. 3VB has also pulled off quite a coup in 2018 by welcoming a brace of supremely talented barristers from 39 Essex Chambers – among them Hodge Malek QC, Saima Hanif and Yash Bheeroo – who have in the past year added greatly to the already all-but irresistible appeal of the set. Marshalling the deep resources of legal talent on hand at 3VB are the senior practice managers Stephen Penson and Stuart Pullum, whose team is described by one source as “can-do people who come back to us when we need them to and manage their charges well.” As 3VB continues to enhance its already stellar reputation for performance before the courts, members have not forgotten the needs of their clients, as one commentator notes: “It is certainly one of the best London commercial sets, and has succeeded in not pricing itself out of heavyweight regional work, despite much of its work revolving around London and international instructions.”
4 New Square
4 New Square continues to sit atop the rankings for professional negligence, essentially in a league of its own. The set also retains a band one ranking for costs litigation, and is also a go-to for leading law firms for insurance, professional discipline, property damage, sport, construction, product liability and commercial dispute resolution matters. Among 4 New Square's tenants awarded the most and highest distinctions are Justin Fenwick QC, who is star-rated for professional negligence and praised for his “great strategic mind” and his “extraordinary recall,” Roger Stewart QC, who is also star-rated for professional negligence and celebrated for his “first-class advocacy” and his “punchy and crisp advice,” Roger Mallalieu, a star-rated barrister in our costs litigation rankings who is appreciated for his “very measured, very courteous approach that goes absolutely beautifully with his quiet persistence,” and new silk Siân Mirchandani, a construction law and professional negligence expert commended for her “good, clear written advice.” Access to the talented members of chambers is smoothly overseen by Senior Clerk and CEO Lizzy Stewart and her deputies, Alex Dolby and Dennis Peck. One source says: “The clerking service is second to none” and “they bend over backwards to assist you in helping you out in difficult situations and when you are under pressure.” Another source adds: “A quick response to any needs we may have is only a call or email away." An instructing solicitor sums up 4 New Square's enduring appeal: "From the front desk, to the clerks and the barristers, from top to bottom the set is geared towards providing a seamless and effortless experience with the strength and breadth of barristers to suit all circumstances."
Crown Office Chambers
Crown Office Chambers continues to be regarded as a dominant force in a number of areas of law, including product liability and professional negligence, in addition to housing a particularly in-depth expertise in health and safety, personal injury and property damage matters. The set is home to “some of the brightest minds of our generation,” according to impressed interviewees, and barristers at the chambers are consistently praised by market sources for their ability to “provide practical as well as legal advice.” John Cooper QC and Dominic Kay QC are both held in the highest esteem for their health and safety expertise, with the latter regarded as someone who “will get the job done to the highest possible standards.” In the field of personal injury, Catherine Foster remains “one of the best trial advocates in the market,” while Andrew Rigney QC is “very thorough and rigorous” in his running of property damage and construction-related professional negligence cases. In terms of clerking, the team is widely praised for “trying their hardest to be accommodating to even the most difficult requests and deadlines” and are regarded as “a real asset to the barristers.” Senior managing clerk Andy Flanagan is regarded as “extremely commercial,” while senior insurance and professional liability clerk Steve Purse is lauded as “proactive, really engaged and highly responsive.”
Exchange Chambers is a leading set on the Northern and North Eastern Circuits, housing a number of barristers who operate out of offices in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. The set is known for its “really good strength in depth” across a number of different fields, including both commercial and consumer-focused areas of law, as well as criminal defence. One individual hails Exchange as “the premier set in the North for both high level commercial litigation and insolvency related work,” while the chambers can also offer expertise in such diverse areas as chancery, employment, professional discipline and real estate litigation. Barristers are also frequently instructed in claims for personal injury and clinical negligence, as well as complex family and matrimonial disputes. One of the set’s most prominent names is “formidable legal mind” Mark Cawson QC, who receives top rankings across areas including chancery, banking and commercial dispute resolution. Other leading silks include Nicholas Johnson QC and Benjamin Myers QC, who represent clients in both general and financial crime cases, and personal injury experts Bill Braithwaite QC and William Waldron QC. Overall, the set provides an attractive option for instructing solicitors, one of whom says: “Exchange Chambers remain our go to set for almost all instructions. The service from the clerks is first rate and it is rare that they do not have a good quality option for us, even at short notice.”
Guildhall Chambers is considered the undoubted leader of the Western Circuit, possessing more rankings in our guide than any other Bristol-based set. Its unrivalled excellence includes band one rankings for nine of the 10 practice areas in which the set is recognised, with its sole non-top-tier recognition a highly impressive band two ranking for real estate litigation. The set’s strength in depth is held to be unquestionable when considering the “greater volume of extremely able advocates it can offer” compared with West Country rivals. Instructing solicitors say that Guildhall is “still the best set in Bristol” and “probably the go-to set on the Western circuit.” The set remains a dominant force for commercial matters as demonstrated by the fact that Guildhall is the only chambers to have achieved top tier rankings in all of banking, company, restructuring and commercial dispute resolution. Heavyweight silk Hugh Sims QC excels in these areas and is widely considered to be the “star of the market.” His ability to turn his hand to anything has led to the well-earned sobriquet “best in the West.” Other advocates of note in these areas include the “very knowledgeable” Gerard McMeel, and John Virgo, whom one client describes as “one of the UK’s leading financial services barristers.” The set’s respected clinical negligence offering is spearheaded by star junior and 2019 Chambers Bar Award nominee Selena Plowden. Her superlative advocacy is recognised by admiring interviewees who variously describe her as “outstanding,” “phenomenal,” “first rate,” and a “stand out specialist.” Meanwhile, notable personal Injury barristers include the “meticulous” John Snell, the “excellent” Anthony Reddiford, and Julian Benson, who is recommended as a go-to for cases involving chronic pain. Star individuals Richard Smith QC and Andrew Langdon QC lead the set’s criminal law offering and are both described as “excellent advocates” by interviewees. Head of employment and “excellent barrister” Debbie Grennan can boast recent work highlights including winning a high value pay out on behalf of a consultant surgeon who suffered detrimental treatment as a result of whistleblowing. Part-time judge Ewan Paton is highly ranked for chancery work, as is the “technical and thorough” Matthew Wales. Guildhall’s standing in the South West is best summed up by one interviewee who opined: “The set remains as strong as ever and is to my mind the best in the region.”
In what can only be considered a clear case of nominative determinism, Landmark is firmly established as a pillar of the London Bar. Led jointly by Paul Brown QC and Rupert Warren QC, the set has 10 rankings in the 2020 edition of the Chambers guide, appearing at the very top of the listings in half of those. Landmark is best known for its unparalleled strength when it comes to environmental and planning law. For planning work, where Landmark remains our single band one set, chambers can field luminaries such as Chris Katkowski QC, David Elvin QC and Timothy Corner QC, as well as the leading juniors Guy Williams and Scott Lyness. This quality throughout the ranks is summed up by interviewees who praise Landmark’s “fantastic depth of knowledge and experience within planning law,” and acknowledge that it is “certainly a leading set in planning.” In fact, a barrister at a competitor set goes so far as to concede that “if you asked the average developer whom they’d want, they’re most likely to say a Landmark barrister.” However, alongside work for developers, the set is also routinely viewed as a go-to by local councils. The set’s leading lights on the environmental side include James Maurici QC who, along with four other Landmark barristers, was chosen by the Department for Transport to resist the judicial review concerning Heathrow’s planned third runway, while three other parties in that case were also represented by counsel from chambers. The set’s additional band one rankings come in community care, local government and real estate litigation, where chambers has been promoted thanks in part to the arrival of “all round star” Zia Bhaloo QC.
Best known for their strong chancery practice, “the barristers at Serle Court all demonstrate a real passion for their cases and for fighting their client’s corner,” according to one interviewee. As one of only two sets top ranked for both traditional and commercial chancery law, this elite group hosts a number of leading names such as Alan Boyle QC, who is described by one source as “a colossus on the chancery stage,” along with the “absolutely outstanding” Dakis Hagen QC and star junior William Henderson. In addition to chancery, the set is also top ranked in offshore, civil fraud and partnership law. In this latter area, John Machell QC is described by a source as “one of the leading lights,” and is the only individual to have earned a star ranking there. The set also has the capacity to handle major company, commercial and insolvency disputes, along with real estate litigation and professional negligence cases. As well as praising the legal expertise on offer in these areas, sources extol the clerking and client service at the set, saying that “it is an absolute breeze to instruct them” and describing the clerks as “well-organised, responsive and extremely helpful.”