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UK Bar: Sports 2016

This year 23 practitioners have been identified by our research as the leaders in the field.

Most Highly Regarded Individuals
Leading Silks
Adam Lewis QC Blackstone Chambers
Michael Beloff QC Blackstone Chambers
Paul Harris QC Monckton Chambers
Jim Sturman QC 2 Bedford Row
Leading Juniors
Nick De Marco Blackstone Chambers
James Segan Blackstone Chambers
Daniel Saoul 4 New Square

Silks

Blackstone Chambers is clearly the strongest set for sports law in our research. Its tenants use their significant expertise in public, EU and competition law in high-profile domestic and international sports cases. Adam Lewis QC is regularly referred to as “the very best sports silk at the bar” and he is “at the very top of his game”. He is “in enormously high demand” to act for sports governing bodies, clubs and athletes in all aspects of sports, EU and public law issues before the UK and EU courts, authorities and tribunals. Michael Beloff QC is “a grandee of the bar” and “one of the biggest names in sports law”. His high status has seen him represent some of the biggest names in sport. Ian Mill QC has “a substantial sports practice”, acting for sports bodies, broadcaster, clubs and athletes. He is particularly renowned for his “authority in disciplinary and doping proceedings” and as an advocate he is described as “a fierce opponent”. Kate Gallafent QC is a junior silk with a strong focus on anti-doping, discrimination and disciplinary matters; in this regard, she repeatedly acts for the RFU. Sources were impressed by her “mastering of the facts” and “thorough preparation and attention to detail.” David Pannick QC is “an incredibly prominent silk” who offers “first-rate knowledge of public law, combined with a comprehensive understanding of sports jurisprudence.” Jane Mulcahy QC is considered “a go-to silk” for sports-related employment matters, including breach of contract, disciplinary and regulatory matters, doping, agency disputes and child protection. One client responded that “she is excellent on the law, in court and in her written submissions.” Brian Kennelly QC is the newest addition to silk, and can offer “a fantastic and growing reputation in sports law”. He acts for a number of high-profile clients, particularly in commercial and disciplinary matters in football.

Criminal and regulatory law set 2 Bedford Row has developed a prominent sports practice, centred around disciplinary, criminal, contractual and regulatory aspects for sports clubs, athletes and governing bodies. Jim Sturman QC is “immensely popular”, especially in relation to disciplinary and criminal action in relation to football. He is “a tenacious advocate”, “very shrewd” and “excellent with clients”. The “brilliant” Mark Milliken-Smith QC is also recommended for his advice and representation of clients before the disciplinary arms of sport governing bodies.

Monckton Chambers blends its traditional expertise in commercial EU law and competition law to great effect. Paul Harris QC has “a very high-profile practice”, acting for clubs, governing bodies, leagues, agents, players and commercial partners, including sponsors and broadcasters. Sources appraise his level of knowledge and dedication to the field as “exemplary”. Clients also remark on his “responsiveness” and “unfussy” handling of complex matters.

At 4 New Square, Graeme McPherson QC is a renowned expert in horse-racing and is universally seen as “the go-to silk for his peerless knowledge of all things equine.” His practice also extends to disciplinary and contractual issues in other major sports. Sources note that he is “a hard-hitting advocate.”

Charles Hollander QC of Brick Court Chambers has appeared in a number of sports disputes before the High Court, disciplinary tribunals and before the CAS. He is a senior silk who is “very highly regarded at the bar”, especially for his “pragmatic and analytical mind”. 

At Guildhall Chambers, Richard Smith QC is a specialist in criminal and sports law.  He is well known in the UK for his expertise in a range of sports, especially rugby, where he is retained as counsel to the England rugby team. He reportedly has “a very good knowledge of the sports industry” and is “highly practiced in disciplinary proceedings”.

At South Square, Daniel Bayfield QC is active representing English football clubs, as well as footballers and boxers in a range of matters. His sports law practice also intersects with his standout insolvency and restructuring practice, having carved out a niche in acting for sports entities in financial distress. He is described as “an extremely bright counsel” with “excellent written work and strong advocacy skills.”

Wilberforce Chambers’ David Phillips QC has a broad commercial practice with a focus on sports law. He is described as “an attentive silk with a good legal mind."

Juniors

Blackstone Chambers has a fantastic bench of juniors, who stand out for their impressive reputation among peers and clients. Nick De Marco is widely held to be “the standout sports junior”. He regularly acts for prominent governing bodies, clubs and athletes in a range of commercial claims, disciplinary and anti-doping proceedings. One respondent described him as “outstanding: very assured and technically faultless.” James Segan regularly acts for governing bodies in disciplinary and doping disputes; in particular, he often acts for the RFU as sole counsel. Sources report that he is “responsive, client-friendly and always on the ball.”

Two leading juniors are selected from 4 New Square. Daniel Saoul is “a truly accomplished sports barrister”, with a background in elite sport and a highly active practice covering the full range of sports disciplinary, governance and commercial matters. He is described as “very strong both commercially and technically”, as well as being “a modern barrister, who offers clients a 360 view.” Alongside him, Richard Liddell garners huge praise for his sports practice including disciplinary matters. Clients find him “impressive on his feet” and consider his advice “technically excellent and commercially sound”. 

John Mehrzad of Littleton Chambers is an employment and sports law specialist. A former athletes himself, Mehrzad often advises and represents clients in employment-related sports disputes, especially in football and rugby. He is said to create “a great relationship with his clients” and “his knowledge is really first-rate.”

At Monckton Chambers, Fiona Banks is considered “a standout sports junior” with “a growing reputation in the field”. She represents governing bodies, individual players, clubs and broadcasters and has appeared in a number of high-profile arbitrations. 

Louis Weston of 3PB Barristers has a strong focus on sports law and has a particularly “renowned practice in horse racing”, as well as in doping and corruption cases more generally.

Goldsmith Chambers’ Jonathan Crystal is a senior junior with vast experience of acting for leading athletes in a variety of sports. He is recommended as “a personable barrister” who “really listens to clients” and is “very insightful”.

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