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UK Bar: Leading Sets 2018

In our fourth edition of WWL: UK Bar, we feature more than 100 sets; however over 40 per cent of the listings are earned by practitioners from 12 standout sets. Here we profile the outfits dominating the UK Bar.

3 VERULAM BUILDINGS is one of the leading commercial sets at the UK Bar, boasting a widespread international reputation for the outstanding expertise of its members. The set achieves 40 listings across nine practice areas in this edition, showcasing the depth and breadth of its offering. 

Its standout banking and finance practice sees 12 leading names recommended this year, illustrating its prominent position in the space. Members are well versed in handling a range of high-profile international banking disputes in both litigation and arbitration proceedings.   

The set is also well known for its strong arbitration offering and sees five advocates recognised for their excellence in the field. The team covers a wide range of sector disputes including fraud, insurance and reinsurance and professional negligence cases and is renowned for its work on high-profile matters including advising the Russian Federation on its US$50 billion dispute with Yukos.

Leading names at the set include standout litigator Andrew Sutcliffe QC who is listed for his prowess in banking and finance, civil fraud and media and entertainment law, while Ali Malek QC is a well-known figure in high-stakes matters in the banking, civil fraud and arbitration spheres. Of the juniors, the outstanding Adam Kramer is listed for his top-tier work in banking and finance and insurance matters.


Leading commercial set 7 KING’S BENCH WALK is home to 43 outstanding barristers whose expertise spans a broad range of industry sectors. The set boasts an excellent reputation in the market, with members regularly appearing as advocates at all levels of the domestic court system in proceedings covering a wide range of matters including insurance, transport, trade, energy and banking.

The set performs particularly well in the insurance and reinsurance field, achieving more listings in this chapter than any other chambers. Members of 7KBW possess extensive experience in all areas of insurance law, acting for both insurers and the insured on a wide range of matters. Its barristers also perform well in the fields of international trade and commodities, as well as shipping, and are often called upon to act in an array of high-profile disputes.

Leading individuals at the set include Stephen Hofmeyr QC, who is recommended for his expertise in shipping law; and Christopher Butcher QC, Alistair Schaff QC and David Edwards QC, who rank among the top 10 insurance and reinsurance experts at the Bar. Other noteworthy practitioners include Richard Sarll, who is recommended for his international trade and commodities work; and Jonathan Gaisman QC, who stands out for his strong energy, banking, insurance and shipping practice.


20 ESSEX STREET remains one of the leading commercial sets at the Bar, a position reflected in the 48 listings it receives this year across nine practice areas. It is a major force in the arbitration arena, with its 15 listings second-most in this year’s chapter, and more than twice the number of the next firm. It is similarly strong in our International Trade and Commodities chapter, achieving nearly 20 per cent of all listings. The third main area of excellence this year is Shipping, where its eight listings are joint second among all sets. Other areas of strength include civil fraud and insurance.

The set is home to some of the most well-known and ubiquitous members of the Bar. Christopher Hancock QC, Duncan Matthews QC and Philip Edey QC are all recommended in three chapters apiece, while other prominent names such as William Rowley QC, Charles Brower and Stephen Atherton QC are also noted. Among the talented roster of juniors, Kate Parlett, Belinda McRae and Philippa Webb are all highlighted in our Rising Stars chapter, but are just some of those making names for themselves at the set.


BLACKSTONE CHAMBERS is a top commercial law set with expertise encompassing a full range of industry sectors. Its barristers are regularly engaged to act in high-profile cases in disputes arising under a wide range of areas. The set is well equipped to represent clients in multi-jurisdictional disputes and enjoys an excellent reputation internationally.  

With a total of 56 listings, the set is among the leading players in this year’s research. It is at the forefront of the market for sports disputes and achieves more listings than any other set. Sports body governance, employment matters and regulation are just some of the areas in which its members excel. 

The set also performs well in media and entertainment matters, a chapter in which it accounts for over a quarter of the barristers listed, and also stands out as a prominent set for telecoms disputes where it achieves an impressive 11 listings.

Standout silks include Ian Mill QC and David Pannick QC for their work in media and entertainment disputes. Brian Kennelly QC is a top name for competition law matters, while Paul Goulding QC and Dinah Rose QC impress in the labour and employment sphere. Pushpinder Saini QC is an eminent practitioner for telecoms matters and Mark Vinall stands out as an impressive junior in the media practice. Diya Sen Gupta and Thomas Croxford excel in labour and employment matters while Tristan Jones is highlighted as a big name in the telecoms sector. 


BRICK COURT CHAMBERS demonstrates its breadth of expertise achieving 59 listings across 13 practice areas. The set’s specialism in dispute resolution, commercial and competition law is borne out by the number of listings it receives in these areas.

It boasts one of the most prominent competition offerings at the Bar, and sees 14 barristers listed this year for their exceptional work in the space. The set is particularly well known for its EU competition law expertise in both public and commercial matters across a range of industries including energy regulation, state aid and taxation. It also stands out as one of the leading sets in the banking and finance space, achieving 13 listings this year.

Barristers at Brick Court Chambers have represented some of the most high-profile clients in the commercial market including: BskyB in its action against EDS for fraudulent misrepresentation, Deutsche Bank in a case concerning foreign exchange losses in excess of US$500 million and Fiona Trust in their dispute against Russian state-owned shipping companies.

Leading silks include joint-head of chambers Mark Howard QC, who is listed for his expertise across six practice areas including arbitration, banking and finance and professional negligence. In the competition space, Kelyn Bacon QC and Robert O’Donoghue QC are distinguished names while David Bailey and Daniel Piccinin stand out as leading juniors. 


Top-tier barristers’ set ESSEX COURT CHAMBERS stands out as one of the leading players in the market, achieving 79 listings across 10 practice areas. Members of the set frequently take instructions from domestic and international solicitors and in-house legal teams across the full spectrum of commercial matters including banking and finance, civil fraud, energy and employment.

The set boasts a leading arbitration practice and is home to some of the Bar’s frontrunners in the international arbitration sphere. Members are frequently called upon to act as counsel in large-scale arbitrations across the world, as well as regularly appearing as arbitrators. Key individuals include Toby Landau QC and V V Veeder QC, who rank prominently thanks to their extensive experience in the field. Lucas Bastin stands out among juniors, receiving plaudits for his excellent international arbitration practice.

Members of the set also perform particularly well in our insurance and reinsurance research, with 12 leading individuals selected for inclusion this year. Among them is John Lockey QC, as well as prominent practitioners David Foxton QC and Paul Stanley QC, who also both rank highly for their expertise in civil fraud matters. A number of other barristers also achieve multiple listings. Claire Blanchard QC performs well in an impressive four chapters, including insurance and reinsurance and energy and natural resources, while leading junior James Willan stands out for his superb work in the areas of civil fraud and banking and finance.


FOUNTAIN COURT CHAMBERS is a highly regarded set for commercial dispute resolution and achieves an impressive 50 listings in this year’s research. Its members are renowned for their excellent work in litigation, mediation and arbitration proceedings on behalf of domestic and foreign clients across a broad range of practice areas. They are regularly instructed by major multinational corporations and international entities including FTSE 100 companies and leading UK and US law firms and has been involved in landmark cases in the UK courts.

With 19 listings, Fountain Court is the market-leading set for banking and finance matters and accounts for 20 per cent of the listings in this chapter. Its barristers act in high-profile disputes for leading banks, investment funds and investment managers and enjoy an outstanding profile in the space. It also ranks among the top sets for aviation and travel-related disputes and stands out for its first-class insurance and reinsurance offering.

Fountain Court is home to a number of impressive practitioners. In the banking and finance space, standout silks include Richard Handyside QC and David Railton QC, while Richard Power and Alex Barden are also highlighted as top juniors in the field. 


KEATING CHAMBERS stands out as one of the most prominent sets at the UK Bar, gaining 46 listings across five practice areas this year. It showcases its renowned leading expertise in the construction space, achieving 30 nominations in this edition, over 30 per cent of all listings in the chapter. It boasts a long-standing reputation in the market for its excellence in the sector, with barristers well equipped to handle the whole gamut of related matters from procurement through to dispute resolution. The set also excels in other areas including energy and natural resources, government contracts and arbitration.

Outstanding individuals include Marcus Taverner QC and Adam Constable QC who are highlighted for their world-class construction expertise, while Calum Lamont is the foremost construction junior at the Bar in this year’s research. Sarah Hannaford QC and Fionnuala McCredie QC are also recognised for their exceptional work in the government contracts space. 


MATRIX CHAMBERS continues to demonstrate its prominent position at the UK Bar in our research this year, achieving an impressive 49 listings across 11 practice areas, illustrating the depth and breadth of expertise it has to offer.

The set dominates our defamation and privacy chapter, in which it stands out as the foremost offering at the Bar. We highlight 10 leading barristers in the field from the set who are recognised for their exceptional expertise in defamation, privacy rights, freedom of expression and data protection matters.

Labour, employment and immigration is another area in which the set performs particularly well, receiving nine nominations this year. The team is well versed in handling a range of related matters before national tribunals including the Employment Tribunal, the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Additionally renowned for its outstanding criminal law expertise, it is unsurprising that the set sees barristers recognised in the fields of investigations and criminal fraud. Corporate crime, international criminal law and asset recovery are just some of the areas in which it particularly excels.

Standout names include Gavin Millar QC, Guy Vassall-Adams QC and Sara Mansoori who are commended for their top-tier defamation and privacy practices. Clare Montgomery QC is the leading investigations silk at the Bar, while Thomas Linden QC and James Laddie QC earn recognition for their superb advocacy in relation to labour, employment and immigration matters. 


MONCKTON CHAMBERS is one of the leading sets in EU, competition and public law. This is illustrated in our research this year: of the set’s 48 listed barristers, 18 are featured in our competition chapter and nine in government contracts.

The set boasts the foremost competition practice at the UK Bar, and stands out for its expertise in merger control, state aid, private damages claims and administrative matters. Many of the barristers listed have competition expertise in specific industries including media and entertainment and telecoms, often with an EU law aspect.

The set’s strong reputation in public administrative law is demonstrated by the number of silks and juniors with deep experience of regulatory matters alongside a significant number of government contracts specialists.

The set’s leading silks include Daniel Beard QC, who is recognised for his superb advocacy in competition and regulatory matters, and Josh Holmes QC in competition and telecoms. Meredith Pickford QC is a prominent silk in the telecoms arena while Jon Turner QC showcases the breadth of his expertise with listings across four chapters. Outstanding juniors include Anneli Howard and Ronit Kreisberger who are leading names in the competition space. 


Commercial disputes specialist ONE ESSEX COURT achieves 41 listings in this year’s research. The set’s members are well known for their great expertise representing clients in domestic and foreign disputes, providing expert advice and representation in all mechanisms of dispute resolution around the world. It is considered particularly strong in the field of international trade, commerce and finance.

One Essex Court excels as one of the leading players in the banking and finance arena. Fifteen practitioners are recognised in this edition for their expertise advising major banks, financial institutions and funds in regulatory and transactional matters.

Energy and natural resources is another area in which the set excels. Seven barristers are highlighted in our corresponding chapter this year, who are widely respected for their outstanding work in oil and gas, renewables, nuclear electricity and water-related disputes.

Eminent silks at the firm include Malcolm Gammie QC, who is highly regarded for his work in corporate tax. Laurence Rabinowitz QC and David Wolfson QC are two of the foremost banking and finance silks at the Bar, while James MacDonald is highlighted as an impressive junior in the space. 


QUADRANT CHAMBERS is a top commercial set which this year achieves an impressive 39 listings across six practice areas. With the litigation and arbitration of international trade and commodities disputes at the heart of their practice, it is unsurprising that the set achieves more listings in this section than any other set. Members boast broad expertise in this field, and are well placed to handle all manner of disputes in this area. The set is also well known for its outstanding transport practice, and is home to some of the Bar’s leading practitioners in the fields of aviation and shipping.

Its world-class barristers dominate the commodities Bar, with 19 individuals highlighted in this edition for their remarkable expertise in the space. Among them are Simon Rainey QC, who tops our rankings in this area as well as performing well in our arbitration, energy, insurance and shipping research. Other leading names at the set include David Goldstone QC and James Turner QC, who stand out for their expertise in shipping matters; and Tim Marland, who is the foremost junior in the field of aviation and travel.

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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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