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UK Bar: Leading Sets 2017

The following 25 barristers’ chambers are recognised for their exceptional performances in our research. From large commercial sets with listings in multiple chapters to smaller specialists with an outstanding reputation in a single core practice area, we highlight the relative strengths of the Bar’s leading chambers.


Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 6
Banking & Finance 11
Civil Fraud 7
Insurance 4
Media & Entertainment 1
Mediation 1
Professional Negligence 3

Leading commercial set 3VB performs extremely well in our listings this year, particularly in matters with a substantial financial element. In banking and finance, it is one of only four sets with double-digit barristers listed this year, while in civil fraud it is again one of the leading sets. There is an international flavour to its expertise, too, with international arbitration another area where the firm excels.

In the banking and finance area, the trio of Ali Malek QC, Ewan McQuater QC and Adrian Beltrami QC are all well-known names. Malek also appears in the civil fraud and arbitration sections, while McQuater also appears in civil fraud.

Two leading insurance barristers, Tom Weitzman QC and Rory Phillips QC, also stand out in this year’s research into the sector.


Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Defamation & Privacy 13
Media & Entertainment 6

5RB is a specialist media and entertainment set and it is no surprise that its barristers dominate our corresponding practice area chapter, as well as the closely related defamation and privacy chapter. All five of the set’s resident QCs appear in the latter category, as well as eight juniors, and in total they account for half of all the barristers listed for defamation and privacy work. Of the firm’s silks, Desmond Browne QC and Justin Rushbrooke QC appear in both media and entertainment and defamation and privacy.

7 King's Bench Walk

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 1
Banking 2
Civil Fraud 1
Energy 2
Insurance & Reinsurance 17
International Trade & Commodities 15

7 King’s Bench Walk is a leading commercial set with an array of distinguished tenants, particularly in the areas of international trade and commodities, including shipping and related insurance and reinsurance issues. A number of its members regularly appear in significant cases before all levels of the English courts and other international forums. For example, its barristers acted in litigation arising from the collapse of OW Bunker, as well as an insurance dispute, Suez Fortune Investment Ltd and Piraeus Bank SA v Talbot Underwriting Ltd, regarding a vessel which was boarded by pirates in 2011.

The set’s top silks include Christopher Butcher QC, David Edwards QC and Dominic Kendrick QC in insurance and reinsurance, while Charles Priday is singled out at junior level for his impressive international trade practice.

8 New Square

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Intellectual Property 14
Media & Entertainment 7

8 New Square is the largest and most distinguished intellectual property set in the UK counting 29 specialist barristers, including 12 Queen’s Counsel, among its members – nine of these are recognised in this edition. The chambers’ privileged position in the intellectual property and media and technology spaces rests upon the tremendous technical expertise of its members which ensures that they are very much in demand after, especially in highly complex matters.

The chambers is home to a number of the most highly regarded intellectual property silks, including Richard Meade QC, James Mellor QC and Michael Tappin QC, who are regularly instructed on high-profile intellectual property disputes. Meanwhile, Isabel Jamal, James Whyte and Mark Chacksfield rank as being among the most highly rated juniors.


Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Government Contracts 4
Labour & Employment 15
Sports 1

11KBW stands out in our research as one of the top sets for labour and employment-related work, second only to Cloisters Chambers for listings in the area. Its barristers appear before employment tribunals, the Employment Appeal Tribunal as well as in domestic and European courts at both trial and on appeal. It represents both employees and employers as well as trade unions. John Cavanagh QC, Christopher Jeans QC and Daniel Stilitz QC are all among the most-nominated names in our research in this area.

The set also has a strong public-sector offering, as highlighted by its work on matters involving government contracts. Nigel Giffin QC and Jason Coppel QC as well as top junior Joseph Barrett all do well in our research. 

11 South Square

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Intellectual Property 10

The set is a renowned specialist in all area of intellectual property law. Ten out of the set’s 16 members are recognised in this edition, with fellow peers, law firms and industry clients regularly attesting to their brilliance in highly complex patent, copyright and trademark disputes. Indeed, its members frequently appear in the most significant cases before all levels of the English Courts, the European Patent Office and the UK Intellectual Property Office.

The top barristers at the set include the new head of chambers Iain Purvis QC, who is highly in demand and regularly placed among the very best IP silks in the country; meanwhile, Brian Nicholson is one of the most highly regarded juniors.

20 Essex Street

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 10
Aviation & Travel 1
Energy & Natural Resources 1
Civil Fraud 2
Insurance 3
International Trade & Commodities 12
Mediation 1
Restructuring & Insolvency 2

20 Essex Street’s commercial expertise is particularly linked to multi-jurisdictional matters, with international trade and international arbitration providing the majority of the set’s listings this year, but barristers in other areas with substantial cross-border elements, such as civil fraud and restructuring, also feature in their respective chapters.
In international trade, barristers such as Timothy Young QC, Philip Edey QC and Michael Ashcroft QC all perform well. Many of the set’s leading names in this area cover the gamut of shipping, commodities and trade matters, with frequent appearances in international arbitrations.

A number of barristers are also highlighted in our international arbitration section, not least ubiquitous names such as Julian Lew QC, William Rowley QC and Bernard Rix QC.
The co-heads of chambers, Christopher Hancock QC and Duncan Matthews QC, also appear in our listings.

Atkin Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 5
Construction 22
Energy & Natural Resources 4

The set emerges as one of the chief offerings in the construction law space and sees 16 of its 18 Queen’s Counsel recognised in this edition. The set’s prominent members are regularly instructed in complex construction, engineering and infrastructure-related disputes in the UK and abroad. Notable examples include the GUPC v Panama Canal Authority ICC arbitration and Fluor Ltd’s claim against Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Ltd.

Several of its members are also recognised for their expertise in a number of related practice areas including energy and natural resources, as well as construction and engineering-related arbitration.

David Streatfeild-James QC is one of the leading stars of the construction Bar, while newly appointed silk Christopher Lewis QC is widely endorsed as a future star. Door tenants John Blackburn QC, Humphrey Lloyd QC and Douglas Jones AO are prominent full-time arbitrators.

Blackstone Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Civil Fraud 7
Competition 8
Environment 1
Government Contracts 2
Intellectual Property 1
Labour & Employment 6
Media & Entertainment 11
Mediation 1
Restructuring & Insolvency 1
Sports 11
Telecoms 9

Blackstone Chambers is the largest commercial set in our research and is known for its longstanding excellence and consistent quality across a number of key practice areas. The breadth and depth of the expertise on offer at the chambers is demonstrated by the fact that it emerges as the most widely recognised chambers in our research, achieving 58 listings across 11 practice areas.

Public international law, civil fraud, labour and employment, competition, telecoms and media, and sports law are all core practices at the set and its members have been involved in some of the most significant matters in the UK and on the international stage over the past few years.
Highlights include acting for the claimants in Deutsche Bahn AG and Others v MasterCard Incorporated and Others before the Competition Appeal Tribunal, representing a US bank in connection with European Commission’s investigation into the alleged EURIBOR fixing scandal and acting for Premier Rugby and the English Football League in EU competition and free movement issues.

The chambers is an undisputed leader in our sports, civil fraud, media and telecoms chapters. Notable silks at the chambers include Michael Beloff QC (Sports), Adam Lewis QC, Ian Mill QC (Sports, Telecoms), Dinah Rose QC (Telecoms) and Pushpinder Saini QC (Telecoms). At junior level, Nick De Marco (Sports) and Tristan Jones (Telecoms) receive strong endorsements from the market.

Brick Court Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 3
Banking & Finance 11
Civil Fraud 3
Competition 15
Energy & Natural Resources 4
Environment 1
Insurance & Reinsurance 6
Intellectual Property 1
International Trade & Commodities 1
Media & Entertainment 2
Mediation 4
Professional Negligence 2
Telecoms 3

Brick Court Chambers is a large and prestigious commercial, competition and public law set with outstanding strength and depth, earning recognition in half the practice area chapters in this edition. In total, 39 of its members feature, ensuring that it is one of the most widely recognised sets in our research. Brick Court stands out in particular for its undeniably top-tier competition law practice, as well as its commercial expertise in the banking and finance, insurance and reinsurance, and energy sectors. The set is also a leader in alternative dispute resolution, earning multiple high-status listings in our arbitration and mediation chapters.

A number of Brick Court’s members are counted among the most eminent at the senior and junior levels. Kelyn Bacon QC, James Flynn QC and Mark Hoskins QC are star competition silks, with David Bailey and Daniel Piccinin earning similar recognition at the junior Bar. Simon Birt QC and Tim Lord QC are among the most highly regarded silks in our banking and finance chapters. Hilary Heilbron QC is one of the top names in international arbitration, while John Sturrock QC and William Wood QC are internationally recognised mediators. 

Cloisters Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Labour & Employment 20
Sports 1

Cloisters Chambers is recognised as one of the leading employment sets in the country, particularly concerning issues of discrimination, equality and human rights. Its barristers are regularly instructed by both employers and employees, including businesses and trade unions, in landmark cases before the High Court, employment tribunals and appellate courts. Cloisters’ employment team includes current and past chairs of the Employment Law Bar Association, the Industrial Law Society and the Discrimination Law Association, and they also work closely with the government on the development of employment legislation.

At the silk level, leading names include Paul Epstein QC and Caspar Glyn QC, who receive effusive praise from market commentators; meanwhile, Anna Beale and Claire McCann are highlighted as future stars.

Essex Court Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 16
Aviation & Travel 2
Banking & Finance 4
Civil Fraud 9
Corporate Tax 1
Energy & Natural Resources 8
Insurance & Reinsurance 10
International Trade & Commodities 7
Labour & Employment 5

Essex Court Chambers is an internationally recognised leader in commercial and financial litigation, arbitration and public law. The extent of its offering and high-status position at the Bar is exemplified by the fact that it earns the largest number of listings of any chambers in our research. In total, 47 out of 83 members are recognised for their practices at the silk and junior levels. The set also leads the way in our arbitration chapter, excelling in international commercial arbitration covering all of the major institutional rules. Moreover, whether it is in arbitration or litigation, the set excels in commercial disputes involving the insurance and reinsurance, shipping, commodities, banking and finance, and energy sectors, as well as employment litigation.
Essex Court has also developed strong expertise in offshore litigation, particularly civil fraud and asset tracing matters – frequently appearing in the BVI, Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Seychelles and the Isle of Man.

Among the set’s members are some of the most preeminent practitioners at the Bar, including Toby Landau QC for arbitration and energy; V V Veeder QC and Bernard Rix QC for their practice as arbitrators; John Lockey QC for insurance and reinsurance; Richard Millett QC for civil fraud; and Steven Berry QC for commodities disputes.

Falcon Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Real Estate 19

Falcon Chambers is a highly regarded property law set and is established as the leading chambers in our real estate research. With 11 Queen’s Counsel and 30 junior barristers, Falcon Chambers prides itself on being the only set to fully specialise in property law. Its barristers cover all areas of property law concerning both commercial and private property, including infrastructure and development, agriculture and rural real estate and environmental and natural resources issues.

Longstanding expert silks include Jonathan Gaunt QC and Kirk Reynolds QC, alongside more recent silks such as Janet Bignell QC. Juniors include the highly ranked Stephanie Tozer and Anthony Radevsky.

Fountain Court Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Banking & Finance 16
Civil Fraud 7
Insurance & Reinsurance 7

Fountain Court Chambers is the pre-eminent banking and finance set at the UK Bar, according to our research. Members are regularly engaged in high-profile and complex disputes, often arising out of the financial crisis, and are well versed in handling regulatory and policy matters for banking clients. Recent highlights include representing a syndicate of banks in relation to the LIBOR-related dispute Deutsche Bank v Unitech. The set also excels in the area of insurance and reinsurance, and is well versed in handling coverage issues as well as disputes relating to avoidance or termination of cover and points of construction. Another of its core specialisms is civil fraud, with members regularly handling both domestic and international matters.  

Prominent names at the set include Richard Handyside QC and David Railton QC, who are highlighted for their banking and finance expertise, while Laura John is noted as one of the foremost juniors in the field. Michael Crane QC and Ben Lynch stand out for their first-rate work in the insurance and reinsurance field, at the senior and junior level respectively. 

Keating Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 5
Construction 33
Energy & Natural Resources 6
Government Contracts 6
Mediation 2

Keating Chambers is the outstanding set in construction law. Its strength in the area is illustrated by the fact that 22 out of its 27 Queens Counsels’ are recognised in our corresponding construction chapter. The prestige the set has in this area ensures it can set a high bar for tenancy and its juniors are often regarded as the future leaders in the field. A number of its members are also recognised in related practice areas, namely energy, government contracts and arbitration.

Several silks at the set stand out as being among the most eminent at the Bar, including Marcus Taverner QC and Adam Constable QC in construction and energy, and Sarah Hannaford QC in procurement. Calum Lamont, Lucy Garrett and Jonathan Selby have similarly high statuses at the junior level. 

Landmark Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Real Estate 11
Environment 7

Public law set Landmark Chambers is recognised for its excellent environment and real estate offerings, with over a third of its silks achieving listings. Members are frequently involved in litigation proceedings before both domestic and international tribunals, including the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the European Court of Justice. The set’s environment offering encompasses a wide array of matters including carbon emissions trading, EU environmental law, energy and waste and landfill projects. When it comes to real estate, conveyancing disputes, restrictive covenants and property finance are just some of the areas in which its members excel.  

Leading names at the set include James Maurici QC who is highlighted for his top-tier environmental law practice, while Nicholas Taggart impresses with his first-rate real estate work, earning him a reputation as one of the leading juniors in the area. John Male QC is recognised as the set’s leading real estate silk. 

Littleton Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Labour & Employment 13
Sports 2

Littleton Chambers illustrates its position as one of the leading employment sets at the Bar with over half of the set’s Queen’s Counsel achieving recognition this year. Members are well known for their involvement in landmark cases such as Bear Scotland v Fulton, a dispute over holiday pay, and regularly appear before both domestic and international trial and appellate courts and tribunals. The set also has a focus on sports law, excelling in contractual disputes between athletes, agents, clubs and third parties across a range of sports.

David Reade QC is identified as one of the foremost silks in employment law. Meanwhile, John Mehrzad is recognised as a leading sports law specialist at the junior Bar.  

Matrix Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Criminal Fraud 3
Labour & Employment 8
Investigations 6
Environment 5

Renowned for its sensational reputation in criminal law, Matrix Chambers possesses great expertise in handling investigations, criminal fraud and cases of serious economic crime. Its investigations offering tops our research this year, with members frequently representing FTSE 100 companies with SFO and FCA inquiries. The set’s employment law practice also excels. Sources attest to the top-tier advocacy and advisory services that its members provide to both claimants and defendants. When it comes to environmental law, the set is well versed in advising clients on domestic, international and EU law. Members possesses great experience representing clients before national as well as international tribunals, including the International Court of Justice.

Many of the set’s silks stand out as being among the best at the Bar, including Clare Montgomery QC who is highlighted for her stellar investigations work. David Wolfe QC is one of the most highly regarded environment silks. Thomas Linden QC, Paul Nicholls QC and James Laddie QC are among the top silks in our employment chapter, alongside leading junior Andrew Smith.

Monckton Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Competition 12
Environment 2
Government Contracts 7
Media & Entertainment 3
Sports 2
Telecoms 8

Monkton Chambers stands out as a set with a notable reputation for its competition law expertise.  A third of the silks recognised at this chambers are listed in our competition chapter, demonstrating its considerable strength in this practice area. Members act in competition law actions and inquiries around the world, including in Hong Kong. Recent cases include advising the Civil Aviation Authority in its first competition investigation arising from admissions of price fixing by East Midlands International Airport Limited and Prestige Parking Limited. Several members are also recognised for their high-level work in government contracts and telecoms.

Many silks at the set have earned fine reputations for the exceptional standard of their work, including Daniel Beard QC and Jon Turner QC, who feature in both our competition and telecoms chapters, as well as Michael Bowsher QC in government contracts and Josh Holmes QC in telecoms. Rob Williams in competition and government contracts and Robert Palmer in telecoms are also highlighted as quality juniors. 

One Essex Court

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 8
Banking & Finance 13
Civil Fraud 4
Competition 1
Corporate Tax 1
Energy & Natural Resources 6
Insurance & Reinsurance 1
Intellectual Property 2
Restructuring & Insolvency 1

One Essex Court impresses with its broad range of expertise, with 34 barristers, including 27 Queen’s Counsel being highlighted across an impressive nine practice areas. In particular, the set stands out for its high-level banking and finance practice, with eight preeminent silks recognised in this area. Members regularly advise international and domestic banks, hedge funds, corporate entities and financial institutions as well as private clients on a wide range of complex transactions, structures and regulation. Its barristers are also known for their significant expertise in arbitration, as well as energy and natural resources.

Top barristers at the chambers include Laurence Rabinowitz QC, who handles a wide range of commercial matters, as well as John McCaughran QC and Orlando Gledhill QC. Ian Glick QC also stands out for his renowned arbitration practice.

Quadrant Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Aviation & Travel 6
Energy & Natural Resources 2
Insurance & Reinsurance 3
International Trade & Commodities 20

Quadrant Chambers is preeminent in the market for its international trade and commodities practice, with an impressive 20 practitioners identified in this area, including 14 QCs. Several of the set’s members are also recognised for their stand out aviation and travel practices, having been involved in many of the major disputes and incidents handled in the UK in recent years.

Notable barristers at the set include Simon Rainey QC, Luke Parsons QC and Lionel Persey QC in international trade and commodities, as well as Tim Marland and Robert Lawson in aviation and travel.   

Serle Court

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Banking & Finance 2
Civil Fraud 5
Company & Partnership 6
Competition 1
Insurance & Reinsurance 1
Media & Entertainment 1
Mediation 2
Private Client 9
Sports 1
Telecoms 1

Serle Court is a leading set for private client work, with notable experience in both contentious and non-contentious trust matters. Members have acted in major cases across the Caribbean, Bermuda, Gibraltar, Hong Kong and Singapore among other jurisdictions. A number of its members are also recognised for their high level work in company and partnership and civil fraud.

Chambers is home to a number of preeminent practitioners including Frank Hinks QC and Richard Wilson QC in our private client section, as well as Daniel Lightman QC and Philip Jones QC in company and partnership. Beverly-Ann Rogers likewise stands out for her high-quality work in mediation. 

South Square

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Banking & Finance 7
Civil Fraud 1
Restructuring & Insolvency 25
Sports 1

South Square is the leading set in the field of restructuring and insolvency, with a peerless reputation for acting on the largest and most complex insolvency disputes and restructuring issues. Many of its silks have ongoing roles in the biggest corporate insolvencies over the past decade, both domestically and internationally, including those of Lehman Brothers, MF Global, Rangers FC and Phones 4U. Its status is such that 17 out of its 20 Queen’s Counsel are recognised as market-leading. South Square also ranks among the top sets for advising and respecting clients in the banking and finance sector, with particular expertise in restructuring and insolvencies arising out of the industry and a reputation for possessing strong technical understanding of financial instruments. 

It is difficult to choose standout silks at the set, such is its core expertise and strength. Some of the most noteworthy include Robin Dicker QC, who excels in both our insolvency and banking chapters; Gabriel Moss QC; Robert Miles QC; William Trower QC and Antony Zacaroli QC. All receive widespread endorsements and praise from clients and peers alike. Top juniors at the set include the very highly regarded Adam Al-Attar, Richard Fisher and Stephen Robins.

Wilberforce Chambers

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Banking & Finance 1
Civil Fraud 1
Private Client 10
Professional Negligence 1
Real Estate 10
Restructuring & Insolvency 3
Sports 1

Wilberforce Chambers is an established and highly respected medium-sized commercial chancery set, with 65 members, including 29 QCs. The number of recommendations its barristers receive in our private client and real estate chapters marks it out as among the very finest in those fields. Indeed, Wilberforce’s members are renowned for their practices in trusts, personal tax, probate and estates; the set is similarly admired for its work in the real estate market, covering all areas of property work and planning law.

Top silks at the set include Gilead Cooper QC and Robert Ham QC in private client, with Judith Bryant standing out at the junior Bar. Meanwhile, Martin Hutchings QC, Jonathan Seitler QC and Joanne Wicks QC are just a few of the outstanding property silks at the set, working alongside top-tier senior junior Julian Greenhill. 

XXIV Old Buildings

Listings in WWL: UK Bar 2017
Arbitration 1
Aviation & Travel 1
Civil Fraud 1
Company & Partnership 1
Construction 1
Private Client 10
Restructuring & Insolvency 2

Members of XXIV Old Buildings are particularly renowned for their expertise in the private client field. However, its broad commercial offering is also illustrated with the set earning recognition in a further six practice area chapters. A large proportion of the set’s instructions have international and offshore elements. In our private client chapter, XXIV Old Buildings ranks among the top three sets – covering a wide range of trust, probate and estate matters.

The stars of the set include Elspeth Talbot Rice QC, who is outstanding in respect of both her private client and civil fraud expertise; and David Brownbill QC, held up as a star for international trust matters.

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Nominees have been selected based upon comprehensive, independent survey work with both general counsel and private practice lawyers worldwide. Only specialists who have met independent international research criteria are listed.

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