Aviation - London (Bar)
"A go-to set for complex commercial aviation litigation," Fountain Court is renowned for the depth of its practice and the superior experience and knowledge of its members. Individuals here are particularly active on claims relating to aviation incidents that result in serious injury or loss of life. They are also highly adept at aircraft repossession matters.
Client service: The clerks, led by Alex Taylor, "provide an excellent service" that "goes well beyond what you might normally expect." "They are of great assistance in getting costs assessed during the process," and are a good foil to their members, who are themselves "unfailingly smart, hard-working and fun to deal with."
Michael Crane QC
Widely recognised as the pre-eminent barrister for aviation, he is particularly noted for his work on complex commercial disputes and regulatory matters. Commentators are quick to praise him for his advocacy skills and outstanding specialist knowledge.
Strengths: "Probably the best barrister for contentious aviation and regulatory work." "He is truly a big noise in the Commercial Bar generally and aviation is the jewel in his crown."
Recent work: He successfully acted in Rogers v Hoyle before the Court of Appeal, a noteworthy case that changed the admissibility of Air Accidents Investigation Branch reports as evidence in civil proceedings.
Akhil Shah QC
A market leader for aviation regulation matters, who is also noted for his skill in commercial litigation. He earns praise for his highly cerebral approach and commercial sensibility.
Strengths: "A hugely intelligent and respected aviation counsel, who is very easy to communicate with and very strong in court." "He couples an unrivalled eye for forensic detail with a pragmatic, commercial approach. He's a reliable sounding board and a pleasure to work with."
Recent work: Appeared for the lessors in HSH Nordbank v Astra Worldwide, a leasing dispute resulting from the insolvency of Air Comet.
Bankim Thanki QC
A commercial and banking law expert whose talents are regularly deployed in the aviation market. He is particularly adept at representing lessors in complex aviation finance matters.
Strengths: "He is a class act - a very good advocate who is loved by clients."
Recent work: Successfully defended China Southern Airlines in a case against Tigris concerning claims of conspiracy arising from the sale of six Airbus A300 jet airliners.
Michael McLaren QC
Has cultivated a great reputation in the aviation market through his involvement in a variety of complex regulatory and commercial disputes. He takes a pragmatic approach to his cases and is a commercially minded advocate.
Strengths: "He is punchy in court and always thoroughly prepared." "He is a team player, and considering he's a fairly senior silk, he has an enthusiasm and eagerness to get stuck in that is quite refreshing. He puts a lot of effort into helping us out in some urgent situations."
Recent work: Assisted the National Police Air Service in obtaining necessary approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) enabling it to operate its nationwide Helicopter Emergency Medical Service.
Stephen Moriarty QC
Recently appointed as head of Fountain Court Chambers, he is well regarded for his courtroom skills by peers and instructing solicitors. He is well known for his expertise in aviation finance cases.
Strengths: "In cross-examination he is amazing and really gets into the details." "He's very clever and very hands-on; solicitors and judges love him."
Recent work: Appeared in the Commercial Court for PK Airfinance defending claims of conspiracy made by Alpstream, a consortium owned by business magnate Alexander Lebedev.
John Taylor QC
Receives accolades from clients for his commercially geared advice. His practice encompasses a range of aviation matters including leasing and contractual disputes.
Strengths: "Combines knowledge of the law with pragmatism and a commercial mindset."
Recent work: Acted for Mitsubishi in the Commercial Court, handling a dispute with Virgin Atlantic Airways regarding the supply of aircraft seats.
A lawyer known for the strength of her advocacy, who is applauded for her finesse in resolving complex contractual disputes. She is further noted for her skill in regulatory work and has the CAA as a client.
Strengths: "A number-one senior junior for knotty contractual disputes. Hard-working and bright," she is "a very good team player, who gets involved and is happy to discuss pertinent points. To the point, she doesn't mess around."
Recent work: Instructed on behalf of Belfast International Airport in its dispute with Aer Lingus concerning the decision to terminate operations out of the airport before the completion of its contractual obligations.
Commercially minded junior who offers expertise in a variety of aviation matters, including insurance and complex contractual disputes.
Strengths: "A safe pair of hands for any complex aviation case," "he is very, very clever."
Recent work: Acted in Virgin Atlantic v Koito and Mitsubishi, a dispute over allegedly falsified test results for seats.
Attracts ample praise for his expertise in aviation cases and is known for being highly responsive to client needs. Sources were eager to highlight his language skills, particularly his fluency in Russian.
Strengths: "A future star. He's bright, fast on turnaround and gives good, sensible advice." "Quietly spoken, he's cerebral and provides a very clear and precise understanding of the problem before him."
Recent work: Acted in the case of Natixis v Islas Airways, a claim made against three guarantors of the defunct airline that sought to recover almost EUR30 million.
Most notably active on complex commercial litigation cases, particularly disputes arising out of leasing complications. He is known for his pragmatic approach.
Strengths: "A dogged advocate, who thinks laterally and constantly comes up with solutions."
Recent work: Acted as counsel for Air France in litigation arising from the crash of Flight 447 in 2009, which resulted in the deaths of 228 people.
Widely recognised in the market as a leading set for aviation insurance work, Quadrant Chambers is praised by commentators as being "excellent, not just in terms of the individuals it has but also due to the depth it has. If you cannot get the person you want, you can get someone equally as good straight away." One commentator noted that "the individuals have superlative intellectual abilities" and are well equipped to deal with any cases emanating from aviation incidents. Multiple members of the set have been instructed in high-profile cases that have had significant repercussions on aviation law.
Client service: "Quadrant as a set of chambers is great to work with; the facilities are excellent and the clerks most helpful." "The clerks, led by Gary Ventura and Simon Slattery, are always helpful in directing us to the right barrister with the necessary expertise." "They make a real effort to get to know us personally and are commercial when it comes to agreeing fees."
Robert Lawson QC
Highly sought after silk who is frequently instructed on sensitive cases that have a law-altering capacity. Commentators highlight his strong advocacy skills and note his years of experience in aviation law.
Strengths: "He is extremely knowledgeable, responsive and good with clients. He also has a superb courtroom manner."
Recent work: Successfully acted on behalf of Malaysian Airlines in the Court of Appeal in a dispute over injury caused by medical treatment administered in flight. This case has helped to further clarify the meaning and scope of 'accident' as applied by the Montreal Convention.
John Passmore QC
Although particularly noted for his expertise in aviation finance matters, he also offers significant experience on lease disputes. Commentators were keen to highlight the quality of his written material.
Strengths: "He's meticulous in his preparation and advocacy."
John Kimbell QC
Dual-qualified in England and Germany, he earns excellent praise for his abilities as an advocate and for his specialist aviation knowledge. He is regularly instructed on claimant cases and regularly acts on behalf of those affected by aviation incidents that have resulted in fatalities or serious injury.
Strengths: "He shows exceptional ability when handling complex aviation cases, and has the drive to deliver successful strategies." "Charming, capable and clever; there isn't a hint of arrogance about him."
Recent work: Acted in Coakely v Air France, representing one of the English families in a case concerning the crash of an Airbus A330 into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009.
A leading junior who receives significant accolades for his work in aviation insurance. He also offers expertise in regulatory matters and lease disputes, and is frequently instructed by airlines to represent their interests in contentious litigation.
Strengths: "He has an easy manner, and puts difficult issues in an easy-to-understand way. He's affable, charming and great at cross-examinations." "Represents the epitome of what we look for in a modern barrister; he doesn't just sit in chambers, but gets involved in cases and sees clients with you. His presentation is just fantastic."
Recent work: Appeared in Samarsinghe v British Airways, successfully defending the airline against accusations of discrimination. This case involved interpretation of the Montreal Convention, and tested the territorial reach of the 2010 Equality Act.
Well regarded for his specialist regulatory and insurance knowledge, he receives praise for his analytical skills and strong advocacy.
Strengths: "A proactive, hands-on senior junior who is both detailed and yet has sight of the bigger picture." "He shows great compassion and understanding with clients, and is excellent on complex quantum cases."
Recent work: Acted in Cassley v GMP Securities and Sundance, a case arising from the fatal crash of a jet that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2010.
Noted by peers for his meticulous preparation, strong advocacy skills and easy manner with clients. He has a particular proficiency in aviation insurance matters.
Strengths: "He has a brilliant touch with clients and with the court; they immediately get his intellect and he produces silky submissions."
Recent work: Acted in Buckley v Monarch Airlines, representing the airline against a claim resulting from a drink spillage. The case involved a determination of what an 'accident' is under the Montreal Convention.
Good at both commercial litigation and arbitration in the insurance market, she is praised by peers for her assertive advocacy.
Strengths: "Bright, tenacious and happy to accommodate the client’s needs." "A fearsome advocate with a first-rate intellect."
Recent work: Acted on behalf of Malaysia Airlines in a case concerning negligent medical treatment aboard one of its aircraft.
An expert in matters relating to the sale of aircraft, lease disputes and cases arising from the maintenance of aircraft. Acts for a broad range of clients including airlines, insurers and aircraft maintenance firms.
Recent work: Acted in Geodis Wilson v British Airways, a dispute over damage that occurred to medical testing equipment whilst being transported.
Acknowledged for its commercial focus, this set has a strong reputation for producing high-quality work in aviation insurance litigation. Commentators hail the chambers as a "quality all-rounder" in the aviation market. It is also recognised by sources for its work in financial leasing matters and the application of EU and competition law to the allocation of airport landing slots.
Neil Calver QC
Well regarded by peers, Calver maintains a reputation for his expertise in aviation insurance matters. He is frequently involved in international arbitrations representing the interests of insurers.
Strengths: "A brilliant lawyer who is an automatic choice for insurance work."
Andrew Lydiard QC
A strong presence in the market, who is strong on liability insurance and leasing disputes. His superior cross-examination skills were highlighted to researchers.
Strengths: "He could probably handle anything, he is so bright. On insurance disputes he is first class." "He has been in aviation man and boy, and definitely knows his stuff."
A popular choice for aviation matters, held in particularly high regard for its expertise in commercial contractual disputes. The set's "extremely bright" collection of barristers are also well equipped to offer assistance with insurance claims, regulatory issues and product liability cases in an aviation context. Barristers here service a broad client base that includes airlines, lessors and maintenance firms.
Philip Shepherd QC
Has cultivated an excellent reputation for his commercial aviation work and is regularly instructed in contractual disputes. He also offers proficiency on insurance matters.
Strengths: "He has bags of experience in the aviation sphere and is a fine courtroom performer."
Recent work: Involved in Credit Suisse AB v Arabian Aircraft & Equipment, a case that arose from a default on a lease agreement.
Steven Thompson QC
Earns praise for his complex commercial litigation work. He is renowned for his proficiency in disputes that arise out of aircraft maintenance issues.
Strengths: "He gives very good commercial advice, particularly in tricky circumstances, and has a very good courtroom manner." "A good advocate, who deals effectively with judges and fights his client's corner hard."
Recent work: Instructed in Ryanair v Derry Airport, defending the airport against a contribution claim brought by the airline.
Highly regarded by sources for his personable demeanour and excellent advocacy. He is frequently instructed on matters arising from contractual disputes, particularly those that have a multi-jurisdictional aspect.
Strengths: "A very experienced junior with a wide and busy practice." "Clever, switched-on, and good with clients, he makes nice presentations in court."
Recent work: Was instructed by claimants in a dispute with Kingfisher concerning breaches of lease agreements.
A growing presence in the aviation market, who offers expertise in lease disputes and financing transactions. He is praised by commentators for his ethical integrity, intelligence and up-to-date knowledge of shifts in the aviation industry.
Strengths: "He's really smart and works very hard; he's very proactive and good to have as part of the team." "A good, bold advocate, who fights for his clients very well and is emotionally intelligent."
Recent work: Involved in the case of SmartLynx v Virgin Nigeria, a dispute emanating from the premature conclusion of a lease contract.
Frequently instructed on lease disputes, but also offers additional expertise in claimant cases arising from fatal aviation accidents. Commentators note his advocacy skills and his extensive knowledge of aviation matters in the Middle East.
Strengths: "Very timely and responsive, and very efficient at identifying the legal issues in a case." "Careful and thoughtful, he's a strong advocate in court."
Recent work: Appeared in Techdawn Aviation Consultants v Total Engineering Support, a dispute over unpaid commission.
John Steel QC of Thirty Nine Essex Street
An expert on aviation regulatory matters, who is particularly known for his knowledge of airspace and air traffic control matters. He regularly acts for airlines, airport operators and aircraft owners, amongst others.
Strengths: "Incredibly professional and a vast resource of expertise."
Recent work: Involved in a case that challenged the NATS on airspace changes made in Suffolk.
Gavin Kealey QC of 7 King's Bench Walk
Highly renowned for his work in insurance, he has developed a reputation for handling complex contentious litigation. He frequently represents aviation insurers and lessors.
Strengths: "Spectacularly smart, he's a fantastic advocate and a masterful cross-examiner of witnesses."
Emma Hilliard of 7 King's Bench Walk
Has a strong technical knowledge of the market and is particularly active in complex aviation insurance cases.
Strengths: "She shows great attention to detail and is very good on the paperwork."
Katherine Deal of 3 Hare Court
A personal injury specialist, who has significant technical aviation expertise. She is regularly instructed by claimants on matters resulting from fatal aviation incidents.
Strengths: "She has good judgement and an excellent intellect, and is a good team player."
Recent work: Instructed in Cunningham v MoD, a widely reported case concerning the death of a pilot as a result of a malfunctioning ejector seat.