Commercial Dispute Resolution: London
THE SET 3 Verulam Buildings sustains its strong reputation in all forms of commercial litigation through providing heavy hitters at its top end and a host of rising stars lower down. In the past few years it has "regularly produced a stream of very strong QCs" and attracted many of the major cases in the market. Commentators attribute much of its success to the "consistently high quality of its barristers, all of whom are bright and leading in their fields." The set is widely praised for its "efficient and businesslike" handling of litigation, as well as its team of intelligent clerks who are "easy to communicate with and trustworthy." Sources say: "The set is a leader and few can offer the same all-round power and user-friendliness."
SILKS Head of chambers Ali Malek QC is an "extremely experienced" leader with a "very diverse practice." Described as "a silk at the top of his game," he is "a superb advocate" who "gets the judge's ear." Sources say they benefit from his "remarkable overview of a case" as much as his "street-fighting qualities." They also comment on the extent to which Malek's work involves multi-jurisdictional matters, saying that "like a good wine, he travels well."
Adrian Beltrami QC is "a tenacious advocate," who combines intelligence with charm. "Adept at getting down to the issues of a case," he involves himself in big-money litigation such as Masri v CCIC, and Benedetti v Sawiris.
One instructing solicitor described Andrew Onslow QC as a "a stellar QC, who is a god in my opinion." Such effusive praise stems from the fact that Onslow has a fine track record in heavy litigation and is "a very good analyst with a nice advocacy manner." He further impresses due to the fact that he is excellent with clients and highly user-friendly.
Instructing solicitors also favour the "clear drafting style" and "highly convincing" arguments of Ewan McQuater QC. They say he "understands what we are trying to do and figures out a way to get there." "Highly client-focused, commercial, pragmatic and strategic," he is "a hard-hitting advocate to be up against."
Market sources comment that Jonathan Nash QC "is making a huge success of silk." "A good team player," he is "a smooth advocate who argues a difficult point well." He is further praised for his "very fast turnaround" of papers, his user-friendliness and his rapid grasp of complex issues. He has recently been engaged in a long-running oligarch dispute concerning the Russian energy industry.
Sonia Tolaney QC has impressed sources since taking silk in 2011. Sources say she "has all the abilities to go right to the top." "Highly intuitive, tenacious and charming," she is "incredibly user-friendly, extremely commercial and sensible in her approach." Pundits tip her for a yet brighter future.
Fellow silk Stephen Phillips QC acts on an array of major financial disputes, and has recently appeared in the Court of Appeal for the claimant in Gesner Investments' aviation dispute with Bombardier.
He wins praise as does Richard Salter QC, whose "legal analysis is quite brilliant," according to sources. Solicitors further favour him as he is "very happy to get in the detail and work as part of a team." Recently, he successfully appeared in the Supreme Court in Belmont Park Investments v BNY Corporate Trustee Services Ltd and Lehman Brothers Special Financing Inc.
The "delightful" and "very bright" Andrew Sutcliffe QC "gives hard advice when it needs to be given." "Excellent technically and incredibly easy to work with," he is an "incredibly client-friendly" silk. He has recently been acting for 116 Irish investors on a £30m dispute with Morgan Stanley.
Christopher Symons QC's recent work has included litigation surrounding a major fire in a shipyard. Sources say: "His analysis of a case, advice, drafting and cross-examination skills are all excellent."
"I didn't know what fastidious meant before I worked with Paul Lowenstein QC," a source describes. "Extraordinary in his attention to detail" and "absolutely relentless in his focus on a case," Lowenstein has a thriving practice at the Commercial Bar. Instructing solicitors salute him for being "thorough, tenacious and incisive."
John Odgers QC is a "calm and assured" practitioner. He recently acted for AstraZeneca on its Commercial Court conflict with Albemarle. He was also instructed by JPMorgan in its dispute with Merrill Lynch over a mistaken delivery of securities.
Praised for his responsiveness and technical ability, the highly personable Cyril Kinsky QC is "a humorous advocate with evident charm." He recently defended Usarel Investments in relation to BTA Bank's multibillion-dollar fraud claim against Mukhtar Ablyazov.
Sources say that Andrew Fletcher QC is "always stunningly well prepared." He is praised for his "very thorough and painstaking" counsel, and is also noted for being excellent with clients.
The "commercially oriented" John Jarvis QC recently appeared in relation to client money claims arising out of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. His wide commercial practice takes in fraud, banking, professional indemnity and insurance disputes.
"Masterful advocate" Gregory Mitchell QC has "all-round commercial capability." This "highly practical" barrister is admired by instructing solicitors for his confidence and unflappability.
When instructing David Quest QC, solicitors say they rely on his "great judgement" and superb drafting skills. His mathematical background lends him proficiency in cases involving exotic derivatives with complex formulae. His many high-profile cases include acting for Ahmad Hamad Al Gosaibi & Brothers on its USD9 billion fraud claim against the Saad Group.
Sources say Jonathan Davies-Jones QC "is a star - there is no other way to put it." "Adept at the most complicated of cases," "he displays real skill in distilling complicated points of fact or law and weaving them into an intelligible and compelling argument." One further selling point of his is that he has a fine grasp of the intricacies of complex financial instruments.
JUNIORS Michael Lazarus is a "technically gifted" barrister who is "extraordinarily bright and easy to get on with." He recently enforced a USD24 million judgment in the Ukrainian courts arising out of Merchant International's earlier claims against oil and gas company Naftogaz.
Instructing solicitors were effusive in their praise of James MacDonald. A junior with a "rapier-like" intellect, "he is incredibly easy to deal with" and "adds value at every stage." A variety of sources commented upon MacDonald's way with words, with one interviewee saying: "His drafting is a joy to behold: you will be wrestling with something for hours and he will distil it into one sentence."
David Head is "focused, client-friendly and gets right to the nub of a dispute." Solicitors trust him to take on cases unled and say he is "excellent on technical matters and always willing to go the extra mile to get a result."
Adam Kramer recently acted on a multimillion-pound claim brought by Royal Liver Assurance against its former head of investment. He is noted for his powerful academic mind, which he puts to use in commercial disputes arising out of a range of professional indemnity, energy, fraud, banking and insurance matters.
Sources confidently say that "in ten years' time" Matthew Parker "will be a star." Parker recently acted for Porton Capital on a claim against 3M arising from the sale of an MRSA screening device.
"Promising junior" Peter Ratcliffe joins the rankings this year. "Responsive and a pleasure to deal with," he attracts work to him due to the "upbeat, responsive and open-minded" approach he takes to his cases.
James Evans is an experienced commercial litigator, who is frequently led by John Jarvis QC. He acted with Jarvis on Dominion of Virginia's claim concerning client assets arising from the collapse of MF Global. He is also an arbitrator.
Instructing solicitors say that Nicholas Craig is "highly authoritative" and can be called upon to provide "quick, responsive, good advice" when needed. "He gets hold of things very quickly," sources say.
The "absolutely superb" Peter de Verneuil Smith is "responsive, thorough and ready to commit to a view." "On his feet he is just extraordinary; he takes people apart in court. He has a phenomenal, charismatic style that judges like, and his analysis is absolutely spot-on."
Sources also complimented Matthew Hardwick, an "incredibly busy" junior and a "creative thinker." Instructing solicitors say he is "highly pragmatic" and "doesn't shirk from difficult cases." He "works really hard for the client, will roll his sleeves up and make the best of a tricky situation," report those that instruct him.
Impressed solicitors say Christopher Harris is "brilliant" and applaud him for his "ability to out-think" his opponent "at every point." They particularly highlight his strength on jurisdictional points.
Laura John has recently acted on a multimillion-pound dispute between international telecoms giants Tilton and Lycatel. She also defended Dena from a high-value claim brought by ABEI arising out of a failed thermal nanotechnology joint venture.
John's stock is rising in the market as is that of "class act" Rajesh Pillai. A "vigorous and persuasive advocate," Pillai is called upon for his expert advice in overseas jurisdictions. By way of example, he recently advised investors Honua Securities on a Virginia Distict Court fraud claim.
Sandy Phipps "is a superstar," who is "approachable, intelligent and happy to work as part of a team." Phipps recently appeared in the Supreme Court on behalf of NML Capital looking at whether the Argentine Republic could legitimately claim sovereign immunity in respect of English proceedings to enforce foreign judgments. He wins strong market approval as does up-and-coming junior Anne Jeavons, who is hailed as a "highly clever, very good technical lawyer."
THE SET Brick Court Chambers is "a top-tier set with star quality from top to bottom." It is instructed on cross-border business disputes of the highest calibre, many of which attract significant media commentary. That such work should flow to the set is a result of the "approachable and user-friendly" approach taken by the "highly responsive" barristers here. They are assisted in their endeavours by "excellent clerks," who "are always willing to try and find the right counsel for you and secure their availability." Members of Julian Hawes and Ian Moyler's team are "honest and upfront; they will tell you if the timescale you put forward is not feasible." The barristers themselves are equally as "dedicated to client service." As one commentator put it, "you get the impression that you are dealing with a market leader for whom first-class legal advice and representation is a given. The great thing is that they combine this with excellent service as well."
SILKS Mark Howard QC, one of the Commercial Bar's biggest names, is an "exceptional" silk and an "extraordinarily well-rounded advocate" who "can command the attention of any judge." A provider of "clever, shrewd and realistic advice," Howard excels "above all" in cross-examination, and is seen as being quite "devastating" in this regard. Highlights of his past year include resisting a significant share sale injunction attempt against VimpelCom. He is expected to make further headlines in the near future representing Michael Cherney in his USD4 billion dispute with Oleg Deripaska.
Another high-calibre commercial litigator is "the exceptionally bright and focused" Mark Hapgood QC, who offers "excellent, commercial advice." Hapgood, who has recently been involved in a good deal of Lehman Brothers litigation, wins particular praise from clients for his "very user-friendly, commercial approach."
Jonathan Hirst QC is another highly regarded Brick Court silk with a strong "strategic brain." "Jovial and robust," he is a man of "great gravitas in court." Observers underline his impressive knack for assimilating large amounts of information and the fact that he works well within a team.
Charles Hollander QC is "a cerebral silk and a strong advocate," who is well loved by instructing solicitors as he forms "precise and steady views." He "knows everything there is to know about disclosure" and is "excellent with clients." "When we've got something really tricky we know we can count on him," say his devotees.
Neil Calver QC is regarded as "an extremely practical" silk, who is blessed with good judgement. Recent highlights for him include defending Russian oligarch Alexander Zanadvorov against claims of fraud brought by a London-based hedge fund.
The "technically superb" Simon Salzedo QC is also recommended by peers and instructing solicitors. A "crisp and clear advocate," he is a lawyer whose "imaginative and creative" approach to legal quandaries has proven a godsend to many a solicitor in dire straits.
Helen Davies QC is held in high esteem by observers, who note her "highly persuasive manner" and say she is "excellent in the way that she guides a case through the court." Instructing solicitors say Davies "is putting down her roots as a QC and coming through strongly." Her "command of detail" has been identified as being particularly impressive.
Daniel Jowell QC recently appeared in the High Court as lead counsel acting for Roman Abramovich on his multibillion-dollar dispute with metals magnate and oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Sources say his cross-examination and his written work are both excellent.
The "robust" and ever-prepared Alan Maclean QC is "absolutely brilliant" and "thoroughly charming." "An excellent up-and-coming young silk," he "combines a mastery of detail with tactical acumen and great courtroom expertise."
The "frighteningly intelligent" Michael Swainston QC is a robust cross-examiner who "knows how to really put people under pressure." Instructing solicitors commend him as "a remarkably tenacious silk who will go through the papers, squeeze out every last point and fight to the last breath." He shares a set with Tom Adam QC, an "extremely responsive" young silk, who is a strong trial advocate with a powerful command of the facts in a case. He acts on an array of multi-jurisdictional commercial frays, as does Tim Lord QC. Of Lord, instructing solicitors say that "as well as being highly intelligent and expert in the law, he has a very good grasp of commercial tactics, and is a particularly skilled and intrepid advocate." Solicitors like him as he is "effective at pushing a case on as quickly as possible."
"Clients love" Harry Matovu QC as "he is exceptionally easy to deal with and can skilfully tell a judge that he's wrong without making that judge feel bruised." He wins "the confidence of the court and clients effortlessly," and is a fine advocate with the "ability to maintain calm in a fierce battle."
"It is a joy," solicitors say, to watch the "committed and tenacious" Catharine Otton-Goulder QC "skilfully work the court around to her view." Sources say she "thrives on cases with tricky legal issues that need patient unravelling," and that she offers "calm, structured and persuasive explanations to the court."
"Bright, accessible and good with clients," Richard Slade QC "cuts through the flannel to get to the heart of the issue and has no problem delivering a forthright view." He recently acted for the third and fourth defendants on a substantial conspiracy claim brought by Kazakh bank Alliance Bank.
Michael Bools QC, sources say, is a "real pleasure to work with" who is "a clever lawyer, an excellent draftsman and a strong team player." Recent highlights for him include acting on two multimillion-pound battles between ITV and its Scottish counterpart STV.
Finally, Sir Sydney Kentridge QC has had a distinguished career at the English Bar since the late 1970s, and before that had a hugely successful career in South Africa. Kentridge continues to expand his horizons, appearing before two new courts in 2011: the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration and the ECJ in Luxembourg.
Roger Masefield QC is "an imaginative lawyer and a forceful advocate" who is an "impressive all-rounder." Prior to his recent elevation to silk he was a junior in Roman Abramovich's team in the headline-grabbing, multibillion-pound High Court battle with Boris Berezovsky.
Jasbir Dhillon QC is praised for being "very bright," and is "carving a niche for himself" in financial markets-related disputes.
New silk Andrew Henshaw QC is a "very able, clear-minded and responsive" barrister. He was a member of Berezovsky's counsel team, led by Jonathan Sumption QC, in the widely reported clash of the titans with Roman Abramovich.
JUNIORS Climbing the rankings this year, Simon Birt "is extremely intelligent and always has a full grasp of complex details." "Incredibly incisive," he has in recent times acted on major cases such as the Fiona Trust litigation and Deutsche Bank's multibillion-dollar battle with Sebastian Holdings. Stephen Midwinter also wins praise, with sources identifying him as a "highly intelligent, unflappable" junior who thrives on high-pressure legal conflicts. He is "able to explain complex legal points in a readily understandable way and knows how to persuade the court that he's on the right side of the argument." Alec Haydon has a "forthright style" and "an excellent ability to separate the wheat from the chaff" in a case. "Confident and direct" in his manner, he does well as he is "tenacious, thorough and insightful."
"Cerebral" junior Fionn Pilbrow "works extremely hard, is highly capable and turns work around amazingly fast." "Calm under pressure," he demonstrates "good judgement on when to make a point and knows how best to make it."
Senior counsel at the South African Bar and now a junior at Brick Court, Thomas Plewman SC has a great track record as a litigator. Sources who have seen him in action in the UK say Plewman is "highly analytical, very clever" and possessed of "very good judgement."
The "sharp, quick, and highly responsive" Colin West "cuts through complex issues to get to the nub of the issue astoundingly quickly. His conclusions and reasoning are spot-on," say those that use him. He is a market favourite as is Sarah Abram, who has been identified by a number of sources as one to watch closely. Instructing solicitors say she is "a strong junior" who is "very hard-working" and "willing to get into the detail" of a case.
Praise also falls on Tony Singla, who sources say is "great for commercial work with a competition angle." Singla has also recently been part of Michael Cherney's counsel team in his High Court battle with Oleg Deripaska, and has had a role in ITV's dispute with STV.
Another "highly promising junior" is the "truly excellent" Oliver Jones, who demonstrates "a commercial approach" and has "an impressive command of detail." He is "one to watch out for" along with "diligent" young junior Gerard Rothschild, a "clever, hard-working" junior with "commercial acumen," who "meets deadlines" and displays "very good attention to detail and an extremely careful approach in all he does."
Fred Hobson rounds off Brick Court's impressive cadre of talented young barristers recognised by this year's guide. Sources hail him as "a very able lawyer and a crisp draftsman."
Essex Court Chambers is a leading London commercial set praised for its "very client-focused" barristers and clerks. Sources say that chambers is held in the "highest regard" because "it's a class act" and represents "a collection of the very best barristers the market has to offer." Cock of the walk in both international arbitration and general commercial litigation, Essex Court Chambers receives instructions on some of the largest cases before London's commercial courts. Examples include Cherney v Deripaska and the Fiona Trust litigation. It is without doubt part of the very elite of the Commercial Bar and has in David Grief one of the most recognisable and experienced clerks the profession has to offer.
SILKS "Absolute superstar" David Foxton QC has "a formidable intellect" and is "very client-oriented." Peers praise him for possessing both "wisdom and intellect" in abundance and applaud him for bringing "great tactical acumen" to bear on the cases he handles, which of late have included Cherney v Deripaska.
Held in similarly high regard, Joe Smouha QC "has the Midas touch," according to instructing solicitors. "Simply outstanding at everything he does," he is a commercial generalist, who offers the solicitor both in-depth legal knowledge and formidable advocacy skills.
Smouha is well regarded along with Vernon Flynn QC, "a master of understated persuasion," an affable individual who works well with teams of solicitors. Interviewees say he is "really good on his feet" and "able to adapt his style to different clients." He recently worked with Joe Smouha QC on Telenor East v VimpelCom and Altimo Holdings.
Andrew Hochhauser QC offers those that instruct him "superior quality of analysis, a capacity for hard work, and excellent advocacy skills." Solicitors say that "he immediately identifies the heart of the case," and is "a highly active and voluble part of the team."
Head of chambers at the set is the "tremendous" Gordon Pollock QC, "a real courtroom battler," who is singled out for his "fantastic advocacy." Sources say Pollock is "thoroughly skilled in cross-examination" and has a lucid and assured manner of delivery, which sources compare to "a really good law lecture." A veteran of many a celebrated legal fight, he continues to attract leading instructions.
Sources agree that Paul Stanley QC is "an outstanding narrative advocate" with a "first-rate intellect." Instructing solicitors say: "His attention to detail, commitment and high intelligence shine through very clearly," whilst opponents concede that "he persuades the judges with impressive clarity and effectiveness." His set includes Steven Berry QC, "a smooth advocate who is able to create appropriate strategies for each case." As a testament to his skills, Berry had a role in the huge Fiona Trust litigation.
Richard Jacobs QC also comes firmly recommended by instructing solicitors. He recently appeared in the Court of Appeal acting for the defendant on a derivatives trading dispute, claiming under an ISDA Master Agreement. Jacobs enjoys the full support of the market as does the "feisty and combative" Richard Millett QC, who is "extremely clever" and "a very good details person." Millett recently represented a former director of Cadogan Petroleum, successfully obtaining partial summary judgment, document disclosure and a reduction on the terms of a freezing order brought by Cadogan. Others to impress here include the "rather excellent" John Lockey QC. He has advised in recent months on disputes arising from the Lehman Brothers administration, the Japan earthquake and the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme.
Graham Dunning QC is a "highly effective cross-examiner" and a "hard but fair" opponent. Instructing solicitors say he is particularly knowledgeable in relation to jurisdictional disputes, an area where he has had many successes.
Sources say they are impressed with Paul McGrath QC in the courtroom. McGrath is widely regarded as a commercial fraud expert, and recently acted on a dispute relating to USD200 million of artificially inflated Argentine warrant bonds.
"Talented advocate" Geraldine Andrews QC is "a real fighter who knows the best commercial points to take." Instructing solicitors were full of kind words for her, emphasising the fact that she is "helpful, practical" and "good on her feet." They also had a lot of time for Claire Blanchard QC as she has a "very commanding grasp of legal and factual points." This "excellent performer" is known for being very patient but also highly robust "when dealing with difficult clients."
The "very user-friendly" Huw Davies QC is "a good straight hitter," who presents as "a very calm and effective leader." He is useful to those that use him not just because of his evident legal skills but also because he is "eminently capable of delivering difficult advice clearly and without pomposity."
Jeffrey Gruder QC is recommended for his "painstaking attention to detail," his "ability to swiftly master his brief," and above all for his "calmness under fire and willingness to be a real team player." Sources enthuse that the "wise" and "user-friendly" Gruder "adds value" throughout. Finally among the silks, the "clever and commercial" James Collins QC is an "excellent all-rounder for a variety of commercial matters." The market sees him as being both "a great advocate and a great tactician."
Stephen Houseman QC is a "hard worker," who is "utterly reliable." His recent instructions include being engaged by BNP Paribas to seek anti-suit relief against Deripaska-owned companies Russian Machines and Ingosstrakh Investments, in which he was successful.
Paul Key QC is having an extremely high-profile year. He part of the team instructed to defend Oleg Deripaska, the wealthiest of Russia's oligarchs, from enormous claims made by Michael Cherney relating to shares in RUSAL.
JUNIORS Praised as an excellent draftsman, and possessed of keen judgement, Edmund King is spoken very favourably of by sources. He recently acted on a high-profile dispute arising out of the financial downturn, which concerned rights under a mezzanine loan agreement between Saltri and JPMorgan. Nathan Pillow "is prepared to get stuck into the detail, is always responsive and takes a very commercial approach." "The quality of his work is extraordinary at times," say solicitors, and "he is one of the calmest people you will ever come across."
Praised for his work ethic and commitment, Ricky Diwan remains a popular choice with instructing solicitors, though admittedly his practice focus lies more heavily on international arbitration work these days. He impresses alongside the "hard-working, thoughtful and intelligent" David Scorey, who is "a joy to work with." Scorey is acting for Kuwaiti Airways to enforce judgments of over USD1.2 billion arising from Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent theft of its air fleet. David Davies recently acted for principal defendant Yuri Nikitin on the headline-grabbing Fiona Trust appeal proceedings. In November 2011, he also acted on a jurisdictional challenge for a structured product mis-selling claim heard before the Dubai International Finance Centre.
Sources say that James Willan is an adept young advocate, with a natural talent. He is "stunningly impressive" and has "thoroughly arrived," according to market observers. "Certainly one to watch for the future," he has "a flourishing practice" and is noted for his "ability to assimilate large amounts of information very quickly."
Jeremy Brier has a broad-ranging practice with an emphasis on commercial shipping disputes. He recently succeeded in a jurisdictional challenge on behalf of claimants Finmoon and Megafruit relating to cargo damages claims arising out of banana shipments.
Praised for his "fantastic advocacy," "clever solutions provider" Edward Brown is well liked by instructing solicitors due to his pragmatism and "willingness to get directly involved with clients." Sources also say he is "excellent in giving an opinion which is thorough, well balanced and firmly committed to its conclusions." Essex Court is fortunate in having talent at all levels and in Emily Wood it has a young junior who is making waves. "Positive and user-friendly," she displays a "huge appetite for work" and is "absolutely fantastic technically."
Another young junior worth paying attention to is Anna Dilnot, who joined the set from 3 Stone Buildings in May 2011. Her practice encompasses commercial litigation, fraud and commercial chancery work.
Fountain Court Chambers is a London commercial set with impressive pedigree and bait enough to hook in litigation of the most imperial size and importance. It is praised for its provision of talented barristers at all levels, and is noted for having a more corporate identity than some of its leading rivals. As one solicitor put it, "its members are all individuals, but all of them are cut from that distinctive Fountain Court cloth." Members here are fortunate in being "extremely well clerked" by Alex Taylor and his team and as a result instructing solicitors can expect a "truly outstanding" level of service.
SILKS Possessed of immense gravitas and widely hailed as a "very powerful advocate" and an "absolutely devastating cross-examiner," the "totally stellar" Michael Brindle QC ascends in the rankings this year in reflection of his high profile at the Commercial Bar. He is "a true Olympian," sources say, "a man of immense seniority" and "fantastic judgement." Brindle shares the limelight with Michael Crane QC, a lawyer with "a first-class analytical mind," who is an excellent cross-examiner and advocate. "Polished, thoughtful, articulate and strategic in his thinking," he commands the utmost respect from his opponents: "Against him, you know you have a good fight on your hands."
"Experienced senior silk" David Railton QC is held by sources to be "a fantastic advocate," who is "extremely persuasive in an understated way." His intelligence, like his "exceptional service," "consistently wows clients." Railton's recent cases include Barclays v UniCredit Bank.
Bankim Thanki QC was singled out by sources for his "responsiveness" and his "keen legal mind." He has an outstanding reputation for his work handling a multitude of commercial contracts, banking, insurance and aviation disputes to name but a few. In a recent win, he defended Julius Baer against a multimillion-pound claim brought by Winnetka Trading concerning the purchase of NASDAQ-listed shares.
Also attracting positive commentary is Timothy Howe QC, a "user-friendly" and "unflappable" lawyer who "thinks creatively about issues and how to address them." Active both at home and abroad, he gets his hands on some of the juiciest litigation in the market, of which BC Capital v Société Générale is but one example. Howe's setmates include Stephen Rubin QC, "a really tough opponent," who keeps a "calm head in a crisis," and provides "excellent analytical and advocacy skills." Rubin's recent matters include the USD350 million VTB Capital Plc v Nutritek International Corp case.
The "highly impressive" Stephen Moriarty QC instils "great confidence" in clients, according to instructing solicitors. As one interviewee says, "within a short space of time he has a complete mastery of the factual intricacies of a case, which, coupled with his legal acumen, makes him a formidable asset on any case."
Andrew Mitchell QC's career, sources say, has blossomed more than ever in recent months. Interviewees say they have "been very impressed by his willingness to get his hands dirty in a case," and highlight his written skills as being of a superior standard. He scores well along with Richard Handyside QC, whose "brilliant mind" impresses solicitors. Handyside has had a busy practice in recent months handling cases involving credit default swaps. He has also led on a USD150 million syndicated lending dispute before the Commercial Court.
Instructing solicitors also had nothing but good things to say about Michael McLaren QC, "a dogged performer," and "a fine lateral thinker," who has "an eye for detail that is second to none." "Phenomenally clever and extremely hard-working," he is "highly tenacious when trying to achieve his client's aims." No less determined is the "extremely bright and able" Guy Philipps QC, whose through approach to his work was much commented on. Philipps recently acted for Kookmin Bank on a USD50 million bond dispute that reached the Supreme Court.
Jeffrey Chapman QC's high-profile work of late has included his successful challenge on behalf of Leyton Orient FC to West Ham's Olympic Stadium bid. Other highlights for him include defending Tongkah Harbour in related LCIA and Commercial Court proceedings concerning a USD35 million structured finance facility.
He is very popular, as is Derrick Dale QC. Dale has been instructed by German bank IKB in relation to claims from Calyon alleging fraudulent misrepresentation of its accounts and investments in respect of a substantial structured finance transaction. Much of his commercial work has a banking flavour.
Instructing solicitors say that Charles Béar QC is "Mr Injunction." He acted for Sainsbury's Bank on a conflict concerning the bank's right to market an insurance product not underwritten by esure.
Also heartily recommended is Anthony Boswood QC. He has a long-standing reputation as a heavyweight in commercial, banking, fraud, insurance and energy disputes, though in recent years has become more notable for his practice as an arbitrator. Boswood wins market support along with Brian Doctor QC, who has a broad commercial practice that takes in banking, fraud and corruption, competition and insurance-related disputes. Of late, Doctor's practice has seen an upturn in instructions arising out of the Commonwealth of Independent States. Completing the roster of silks here,
Patricia Robertson QC is a practitioner who "deals with her cases with tremendous vim and gusto." She impresses commentators with her "measured approach, attention to detail and capacity for thinking around the issues."
John Taylor QC is "a good man to have on your side in a difficult case," as he is a "determined and doughty advocate." He recently acted as sole counsel to Welven on Commercial Court proceedings brought against the Soar Group relating to a share sale agreement.
JUNIORS Patrick Goodall "is a very fine advocate," with an "engaging style," who "puts his points across with great clarity." He recently acted as junior to the Treasury Devil on behalf of HMRC on a significant dispute with Prudential over whether professional privilege is extended to accountants providing tax advice.
Another winner of high praise is Edward Levey, whose "huge brain is capable of analysing complex law and evidence very quickly." A "firm favourite" among solicitors, he is "a real fighter, who is tenacious, knowledgeable and quick-thinking," as well as a "good team player" with a "hands-on approach."
Also noted by sources, Deepak Nambisan "is the consummate team player," and is "ferociously hard-working and a spectacular advocate." He is singled out by sources for his "incisive practical advice," which he recently put to good use in Al Sadik v Investcorp.
Fellow junior Paul Sinclair is "extremely good with clients" and "very quick at responding to instructions." His recent matters have seen him acting for Iraq Airways on resisting enforcement of a USD1.2 billion judgment relating to the Gulf War, and appearing as main junior counsel for Boris Berezovsky in his claims against Patarkatsishvili and others.
Others involved in heavyweight litigation include Adam Zellick, "a confident advocate," who is "very hard-working" and "someone who is prepared to stand up to silks and judges." He recently acted with David Railton QC on HSBC v Orange.
Also busy is Alexander Milner, another excellent junior at the set, whose "eye for detail" and "technical expertise" both receive commendation. He is praised as a "thorough and capable" lawyer who is "solid on his feet" and "puts the work in."
James Cutress enters the rankings this year. Sources say he is "thorough, insightful and highly responsive." His high intelligence was remarked upon by a number of sources, as well as the quality of his "clear and elegant" drafting.
"Wondrously easy to work with," Rosalind Phelps "rolls her sleeves up" and impresses instructing solicitors with her "ability to turn work around with the most extraordinary speed." "A formidable litigator," she has a general commercial practice with a strong aviation element to it.
The "very able" Richard Power has "a classic Fountain Court practice," acting as he does on a heady mix of business and financial services disputes. Recent highlights include defending Texas Keystone in its well-publicised petroleum fields dispute with Excalibur Ventures. Sources say he is "a complete package," and that "when he makes points, they're inevitably good ones."
Tamara Oppenheimer "is always impressive." Sources say she is "a wonderful writer, who is analytical in her approach, and highly capable." "Clear advice, quality drafting and confident, effective advocacy" are all guaranteed from this popular lawyer. Also rated at the set, David Murray is an "extremely bright and able" up-and-coming junior. Representing defendant employees, Murray was junior in a successful Court of Appeal hearing against Safeway that looked at whether employees could be liable to indemnify their employers in the event of fines. He attracts market comment as does the "extremely impressive" Rupert Allen, who "has a first-class intellect." Allen is ranked for the first time this year as is Simon Atrill. Interviewees were keen to volunteer Atrill's name as an example of an "incredibly hard-working, super-able and very user-friendly" junior. Despite his few years of call, he is already considered "a strong advocate."
THE SET "The particular strength of One Essex Court," interviewees say, lies in the fact that "it has a wide range of barristers at different levels of seniority all of whom have talent in abundance." Its members offer "a highly user-friendly and commercially focused" service and are regularly seen in commercial disputes of the highest calibre. Veterans of the largest and most high-profile cases of recent years, they are well clerked by Darren Burrows and his team who are "highly approachable and always happy to help."
SILKS The illustrious Anthony Grabiner QC practically needs no introduction. One source says it best: "Lord Grabiner remains one of the most eminent counsel at the Bar. He has great personal presence in court and commands considerable respect from the bench. Behind the scenes he gives clear, clever and practical advice, has invaluable insight into tactical issues. and knows what arguments will appeal to the court and what points can and cannot successfully be run. He is very easy to work with, popular and respected by clients and opponents." Grabiner far from hogs the stage at One Essex Court though, as the set is full of distinguished lawyers.
Laurence Rabinowitz QC is one of the Bar's most successful advocates and "a real heavyweight," who "can make a real difference to the outcome of a case." Possessed of abundant "raw ability" and praised for his "nuanced" advocacy, he provides "devastating cross-examination" and "inestimable intellectual firepower."
"Real details man" Alain Choo Choy QC "devours papers." Instructing solicitors deem him "an astonishing lawyer" and "one of the brightest of his generation." He attracted headlines this year when he was instructed by News International in its dispute with private investigator Glenn Mulcaire concerning legal fees.
Not only is John McCaughran QC a "focused, switched-on litigator," but his quiet and assured style of advocacy wins praise from sources for being "highly effective in the way it gently gets you to the right solution." He is popular as is Daniel Toledano QC, "an exceptionally able and bright lawyer," who "is practical, always quick with his written work and very easy to work with." Toledano is identified as an "extremely persuasive" advocate with wisdom "beyond his years," who attracts quality work such as VTB Capital Plc v Nutritek International Corp.
The "impressive" David Wolfson QC is a "real fighter." "Incredibly clever, sensible and hard-working," he is "a fantastic advocate," who "can handle all sorts of difficult judges." He shares a set with Jeffery Onions QC, who "drills down to the essence underlying a case and distils it for judges." Onions' practice encompasses a range of insurance, banking, insolvency, energy and media-related commercial disputes.
The highly knowledgeable Stephen Auld QC is good with clients and "the sort of barrister you want to get on board when something's cropped up at short notice and you need someone flexible who can get their hands dirty quickly." Sources say he is a "superb trial advocate" who "is up for a hard battle and does not pull his punches."
The "incredibly energetic" and "down-to-earth" Ian Glick QC is a valuable addition to any litigation team for cerebral contributions to large commercial litigation matters. A former chairman of the Commercial Bar Association, he has recently appeared in Virgin Media Communications Ltd v British Sky Broadcasting Group Ltd.
Neil Kitchener QC's recent cases include Bank of Ireland v Jaffery. "Succinct and eloquent," he provides solicitors with "an efficient and effective brand of advocacy that confers a real trial advantage." He is much sought after as he is "completely committed to the cause, a formidable advocate and also a great team player."
Highlighted as a robust and challenging cross-examiner, the "incredibly bright" Kenneth MacLean QC is a silk who "really throws himself into the fight." He is much in demand as is the "thoughtful" and "open-minded" Craig Orr QC, who is "a first port of call for heavyweight matters" for many solicitors. Particularly expert in complex financial disputes, he is, according to those that hire him, "excellent in a crisis."
Since taking silk, David Cavender QC has impressed sources, who describe him as "excellent in court," "responsive and accessible." His "solid commercial advice inspires confidence," report observers. Cavender's set includes Rhodri Davies QC, a barrister who has "judgement and gravitas" in abundant supply. Davies is valued by solicitors as he has the "ability to make complex questions sound very simple."
Also present is Anthony de Garr Robinson QC, who is noted for "his fantastic ability to handle clients." Possessed of a "winning courtroom style," he is a man whose "unassuming manner belies a formidable intellect," and someone who is "amongst the most tactically astute lawyers" at the Commercial Bar.
The market also endorses "smooth operator" Charles Graham QC, "one of the most intellectual individuals around and a man with a seemingly photographic memory," and Nicholas Strauss QC. Strauss impresses as "he can familiarise himself rapidly with complex factual and procedural backgrounds." His "patient, careful advocacy" and his "ability to work creatively under pressure" go down well with the market.
Sa'ad Hossain QC has an impressive reputation. Although extremely well regarded in matters relating to energy and natural resources, Hossain has a broad commercial practice and is seen as "a genuine talent coming through."
Camilla Bingham QC is "a rare find: she is not just your run-of-the-mill clever barrister." Impressed sources highlight her firm grasp of factual and legal points, commanding advocacy and highly personable manner as being all points in her favour.
JUNIORS Conall Patton is an "outstanding junior," who frequently acts as junior to Lord Grabiner QC. He "consistently performs to the very highest standard, and does so with ease." In addition to this he has a "beautiful writing style," and offers "impressive advocacy and fantastic strategic skills - he is just the complete package." Another beneficiary of warm praise was "future star" Alexander Polley. "Relentlessly hard-working," he is noted for his "forensic attention to detail and creative thinking," as well as the timely way in which he turns round papers. One market commentator said he produced work of "a standard I'd not seen in someone of his year of call before." Like Polley, Anna Boase has "a commendable work ethic." Her "good commercial advice" and industry inspire confidence in instructing solicitors and lay clients alike.
James Goldsmith "can reduce complex legal problems to manageable chronologies with ease and aplomb." "A brilliant draftsman," he "works unbelievably hard," and "is destined for great things," according to commentators. Steven Elliott is singled out for his "analytical strength." Sources say he wins the trust of both solicitors and lay clients through his "robust, confident advocacy" and the excellent way he crafts a case. Instructing solicitors very much like the fact that Michael Fealy is a strong "team player." His very busy diary comes as no surprise, not least because he gives "exceptionally clear advice" and is "commercial, friendly and exceedingly responsive." His recent cases include Merchant International v Naftogaz.
Sebastian Isaac "is extremely bright and has a very sharp mind, that enables him to identify key issues with apparent ease." Solicitors say that he complements his intellectual ability with unwavering commitment to the cause and is always ready to put the hours in. Clare Reffin is a "highly motivated" barrister who is "willing to go the extra mile." "Driven and highly engaged" with her cases, she offers "outstanding forensic analysis." Recently, she acted on JSC BTA Bank v Solodchenko.
"Hard-working and talented junior" Benjamin Strong is hailed by sources as "a true details man with a particular aptitude for complex, paper-heavy disputes." He is fully endorsed by the market as is Orlando Gledhill, who is "one of the best men to go to if you have a tricky piece of drafting." Sources highlight his "surgical" and "clear-sighted" approach and say he is "first-rate on jurisdiction issues." Matthew Cook wins praise not only as "a highly confident and polished advocate" but also for being a bright and talented writer who is able to hold his own in court against heavy-hitting opposition. Recent cases for him include Strategic Value Master Fund Ltd v Ideal Standard International.
Instructing solicitors praise Simon Colton as someone with "a huge capacity for hard work." Recently, Colton acted as part of Boris Berezovsky's counsel team on his multibillion-pound Commercial Court fight with Roman Abramovich.
Sources identify promising junior Daniel Hubbard as a "standout" up-and-comer. His representative highlights include acting for BSkyB on its sale of goods contractual dispute with Thomson Broadband.
Another increasingly popular choice at the Bar is Richard Mott, who is "quick, responsive and very knowledgeable." Recently, he was junior in Tullow Uganda's dispute with Heritage Oil & Gas relating to a failed joint venture valued in excess of USD300 million.
Laurence Emmett is "a very intelligent junior barrister who also possesses sound judgement." Known for his "careful and considered" approach and "ability to get to grips with the details in a case," he is "an excellent technical lawyer."
Sam O'Leary is another up-and-comer spoken of highly by a broad selection of instructing solicitors. O'Leary "is very impressive for his year of call, and exhibits an astute mind, considerable depth of knowledge and a tenacious grasp of the detail in a case." He does well as he has "a practical awareness of the client's commercial concerns."
THE SET This well-respected chambers marries its broader commercial litigation expertise to its established strengths in insurance and shipping disputes. Solicitors are full of praise for the "sensible approach" taken by its talented lawyers, both in terms of advice and advocacy. Praise is also reserved for its "attentive" and "highly impressive" clerking team led by Brian Lee. The set's expertise in commercial matters can be seen through its involvement in Lehman Brothers insolvency-related litigation and the Pioneer Freight Futures case.
SILKS Iain Milligan QC is "a sublime cross-examiner" who "brings considerable talent and insight to every case." An "absolutely top-rate" performer, he is "highly cerebral," "terrific on his feet" and "extremely persuasive."
Philip Edey QC is "an exceptional advocate," who is "wonderful at gauging the dynamics and psychology of any given courtroom situation." "His ability to devise a sound strategy when faced with a brief of the highest complexity legally and factually is deeply impressive."
Andrew Baker QC has expertise in cross-border commercial disputes arising out of the shipping, insurance and reinsurance, commodities and banking worlds. One recent highlight for him was representing Petrobras in Supreme Court proceedings to determine the rights of the owner of time-chartered vessels lawfully withdrawn for non-payment of hire.
Duncan Matthews QC is "an impressive strategist," whose "fine intellect and excellent case management" are of great benefit to instructing solicitors. "A brilliant all-round barrister," he "commands the attention of judges with ease."
"If a company is facing a 'make or break' dispute," Timothy Young QC "inspires confidence in the board, and can guide the company to a successful outcome." Instructing solicitors say he is "an excellent advocate who can always be relied on." His recent cases include Saltend Generating v BP, an Iranian sanctions case. Fellow silk Guy Morpuss QC is "a concise and convincing advocate," who is "absolutely excellent at marshalling the facts of a case." He recently acted on Lotus's dispute with Caterham Cars concerning to what extent the two could link their brand names.
David Owen QC is highlighted by sources for his sage "tactical input" in tricky multi-jurisdictional matters. He has extensive experience of commodities, energy, shipping, banking, insurance and reinsurance and general commercial contractual disputes.
Lastly among the silks, the "deeply analytical" Charles Kimmins QC is "a highly polished advocate" who "can be parachuted into a difficult case to argue attractively and skilfully." Recent matters he has undertaken include Star Reefers v JFC.
JUNIORS Out in front among this set's juniors, Thomas Raphael possesses "a first-class brain," according to instructing solicitors. "He has strong tactical awareness and expresses himself well on paper and, if anything, even better on his feet."
David Lewis is identified as an "excellent junior who is more than capable of holding his own" against senior opposition. Lewis recently appeared in the Commercial Court seeking to enforce an arbitration award concerning the disputed sale of sunflower seeds.
THE SET Blackstone Chambers' undisputed capability in commercial dispute resolution makes it a favourite of many instructing solicitors. It is a go-to set for commercial disputes with a public and administrative law twist, but beyond this is more than capable of holding its own with the very best when tackling classic straight commercial cases. It handles a spate of instructions in business-critical disputes across the full spectrum of the market and is further praised for its "cutting-edge" client service provision. Instructing solicitors say they have built enduring relationships with the set, and have enjoyed great support from the clerking team headed by the "commercially minded" Gary Oliver.
SILKS Ian Mill QC is "an incredible advocate," who impresses sources with his "highly responsive service" and "keenness of mind." This year Mill won a high-profile court battle with the six major ISPs forcing them to block torrent-hosting website The Pirate Bay. This decision stands to have huge commercial implications for the technology and content industries.
"Flexible, versatile" litigator Thomas Beazley QC is "a real brainbox," who is "superb in cross-examination" and "absolutely fabulous" where conflicts of law issues arise. He has recently acted as counsel to metals magnate Oleg Deripaska on his highly significant, headline-grabbing, multibillion-pound dispute with Michael Cherney.
"A tough trial advocate," Robert Anderson QC is "a very bright, excellent team player," reported by interviewees as being "at the top of his game." "A master of cross-examination," he recently acted alongside Thomas Beazley QC on a claim brought against Credit Suisse by the family of an Egyptian shipping and energy tycoon. Anderson's set includes Barbara Dohmann QC, whose reputation in the market is both high and enduring. "Thorough, hard-working and great in cross-examination," she recently acted for Barclays Pharmaceutical on a significant fraud claim against Waypharm.
Possessed of "a great court manner and gravitas," Charles Flint QC is a well-established silk with expertise in commercial matters, whose financial services expertise is second to none. His recent matters include acting for the Sea Fish Industry Authority on a claim brought by Bloomsbury International which made it all the way to the Supreme Court.
Recommended by sources for his aptitude for "highly technical cases," the "strategically strong" Robert Howe QC has "outstanding legal knowledge." He recently acted for the Newspaper Licensing Agency on a claim brought by Meltwater concerning how press cuttings agencies can use online newspapers.
Pushpinder Saini QC "is phenomenally good," sources enthusiastically report. Recently, he has acted for Gordon Ramsey on a dispute with his former business partners, and has also led a team for an appointed trustee in an effort to recover funds misplaced in the Madoff fraud. Saini shares a set with new silk Andrew Hunter QC, whose advocacy skills were much commented upon. "An impressive lateral thinker and a very persuasive name," he was, prior to talking silk, instructed by three respondents in Masri's proceedings against the Consolidated Contractors Company and others.
The "truly excellent" Thomas de la Mare QC also took silk this year. Instructing solicitors identify him as a "concise, accurate and commercially aware" lawyer who is "hugely intelligent and perceptive."
JUNIORS Tom Weisselberg is "a tough litigator" who is "hard-working, intelligent, charming and astute. Solicitors love him and judges listen to him." He has had a busy year in relation to a number of high-profile commercial and media cases, and was engaged to act on Michael Cherney's dispute with Oleg Deripaska.
Andrew George produces "excellent written work" and is a "really user-friendly team player," instructing solicitors say. Sources say he is "exceptionally talented" and value him for his expertise in commercial disputes in regulated industries.
"Excellent judgement and advocacy skills" come to mind when independent referees speak of Robert Weekes. He put these to use intervening in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Sea Fish Industry Authority in relation to challenge to a Fisheries Act levy brought by Bloomsbury International.
Mark Vinall also impresses market observers. They applaud him for both his skill on his feet and his "cleverly constructed preparatory paperwork." He acted with Robert Howe QC on Meat Corporation of Namibia v Dawn Meats.
Shaheed Fatima enters the guide this year as an up-and-comer with an increasing profile in the commercial sphere. Recent highlights for her include acting for the Zeids on their USD80 million mis-selling conflict with Credit Suisse.
THE SET 7 King's Bench Walk constitutes a strong market presence and has received a good deal of press attention of late due to its lead role in the Masri litigation. Members of the set were instructed by Masri in the Commercial Court, the Court of Appeal and in substantial contempt of court proceedings. That members should have involvement in this and other cases of such magnitude is a fitting illustration of the strides that the set as a whole has made in recent years. Once almost wholly associated with insurance work, chambers is now recognised as having full commercial litigation capability. Its barristers tackle commercial cases of many different kinds and are well supported by a clerking team, led by Bernie Hyatt and Greg Leyden, that is "experienced, highly responsive and understanding of the time pressures faced by instructing solicitors."
SILKS Jonathan Gaisman QC is a barrister with enormous experience in the commercial field. Sources say: "Gaisman is one of the best advocates for significant trials where cross-examination of witnesses is pivotal to the outcome." "Highly intelligent," he is "a tenacious and formidable advocate."
Christopher Butcher QC recently acted for claimants Yao Essaie Motto in the Supreme Court on Trafigura's alleged dumping of toxic waste in Côte d'Ivoire. His expertise encompasses a very broad range of commercial litigation matters.
Stablemate Gavin Kealey QC has a similarly broad commercial practice. He recently acted for Aegis, Markel and Aspen on large consolidated Commercial Court actions against Swiss Re. Market observers note that "he has a very big following and with good reason."
Also popular is the "incredibly impressive" Rebecca Sabben-Clare QC. In a recent highlight, she acted for Rok on claims for £5 million in damages following a breach of warranty under a share sale agreement.
JUNIORS 7KBW's commercial junior of choice, James Brocklebank is singled out by sources as a "remarkably intelligent" barrister. Instructing solicitors say that the "extremely diligent" Brocklebank is gifted with the "ability to think in straight lines."
THE SET Chancery powerhouse Maitland Chambers is a set with genuine clout in all manner of commercial disputes. One clear demonstration of this is its sheer level of activity in recent times. Of late it has been involved in many of the most significant disputes to come to court including BTA Bank's fraud proceedings, the Madoff litigation, cases brought by Boris Berezovsky, the Masri litigation and RBS's battle with Highland Capital.
SILKS Anthony Trace QC "is an experienced advocate with excellent judgement and an easy-going, charming manner." Possessed of an "acerbic, punchy style," he is "a real fighter," according to solicitors. Recently, he has had a role in both the BTA Bank case and the YUKOS/Rosneft litigation.
Matthew Collings QC "is incredibly user-friendly and willing to bend over backwards to assist in an emergency." Sources rated Collings for his "excellent speed and clarity of thought." His recent cases include Ahmed v GE Money and Barclays.
Paul Girolami QC is a barrister with "a great analytical mind," who is making a real splash in the market at the moment. He offers "very attractive advocacy," and has an "elegant way of expressing himself." Solicitors aver that he will always add value to any case.
In a recent dispute between oligarch-owned companies featuring allegations of fraud, breaches of loan agreement and trust, Dominic Chambers QC recently brought claims on behalf of Slocom Trading against Sibir Energy in relation to a EUR250 million villa in the South of France. His practice emphasises cross-border commercial disputes with fraud elements.
John McGhee QC has "excellent technical abilities," according to independent market sources. His practice spans company, real estate, partnership, fraud and insolvency-related commercial disputes. Matters handled by him of late include Menolly v Cerep Sarl. McGhee enjoys strong market support as does the "highly accessible and user-friendly" Jonathan Russen QC, a "rigorous and determined" leader, who is above all an "excellent advocate." Russen is at a chambers that also includes the "extremely thorough" Edmund Cullen QC, who is praised for his "meticulous analysis of skeleton arguments." Commentators also say that he is "steady, responsible and good with clients."
JUNIORS David Mumford possesses an "amazing breadth of knowledge," and is an "extremely clever advocate." Sources comment that he is "the match of many silks and is a junior barrister to watch." Others identify his "phenomenal technical expertise and ability to assimilate vast amounts of material" as points in his favour.
The "bright and accessible" Ciaran Keller is "able to grasp technically difficult issues quickly" in a way that "sets him apart from other barristers." He recently had a role in NML v The Argentine Republic, a Supreme Court case which gave a landmark ruling on sovereign immunity.
Also involved in this case was Benjamin John, who has "excellent judgement and a formidable intellect." He is "a clever tactician" who, solicitors say, "will run through brick walls for you" in pursuit of a good result.
THE SET This "client-driven" chambers is a new addition to the set rankings for commercial dispute resolution. Those who instruct the set say it builds strong relationships with instructing solicitors through its willingness to remain flexible and practical from the outset of an instruction. Much of its expertise in the commercial sphere stems from its well-known practitioners in aviation and shipping. They are seen to have successfully led their own practices, and the set as a whole, into much broader commercial territory.
SILKS Stephen Cogley QC "is a highly effective cross-examiner." He has acted for a diverse range of high net worth individuals and companies, and excels in unfair prejudice, and regulatory shareholder disputes. He recently represented the Sudan in a commercial brawl with the new state of South Sudan concerning oil ownership.
Another Quadrant silk, the "client-friendly" Simon Rainey QC wins the admiration of instructing solicitors as a result of his "ability to synthesise complex areas of law into digestible pieces with absolute clarity and sophistication."
JUNIORS Jeremy Richmond recently acted for the defendant on a claim that she perpetrated a £1 million fraud against Irish software giant Sandisk. He moved to Quadrant in July 2011 and is tipped for a bright future there.
Robert-Jan Temmink "provides highly user-friendly support" while "always maintaining a complete handle on the key facts and issues in a case," sources say. Solicitors characterise him as a "fierce advocate" with a "commanding court presence."
"Measured and precise," not to mention "extremely hard-working," Guy Blackwood is another junior at Quadrant singled out for praise. His practice encompasses a healthy mix of fraud, insurance, energy and banking work. He recently acted for Kythreotis, a named defendant in BTA Bank's enormous claims against Mukhtar Ablyazov.
Gemma Morgan is an "extremely hard-working, conscientious and bright" lawyer. Instructing solicitors say she has "command of the detail of a case" and can advise "confidently and strongly on strategy."
THE SET Serle Court has "proficient, highly sought-after" barristers who are instructed in some of the most interesting and substantial cases in the market. Matters undertaken in the past year include high-profile work arising out of the Madoff fraud and roles in the Masri and Ablyazov cases. Solicitors noted that the pragmatic and commercially aware clerking team on hand here also stands the set in good stead.
SILKS The "exceptionally bright" Alan Boyle QC "likes to get to the bottom of things and won't take no for an answer," instructing solicitors say. Opponents say he is "absolutely formidable and a real class act. If you know he's on the other side you know you must be at the top of your game."
Observers say Philip Marshall QC "has a rare gift in manner and personality such that when he gets to his feet and opens his mouth judges listen very carefully." Armed with "the attention of the court, he gives the client huge confidence." A lawyer who "balances aggression with excellent judgement," he is "a really shrewd tactician" with "a top-rate mind." Equally popular, the "user-friendly and sensible" Philip Jones QC is someone who "looks at all the commercial angles in a case." Jones has had a significant year, appearing in Madoff-related litigation and acting for oligarch Michael Cherney on a claim concerning the commercial relationship between Cherney and his agent.
Elizabeth Jones QC is "an impressive and persuasive advocate," who is "very good with clients and not afraid to give firm, pragmatic advice." Recent highlights for her include a share dispute in relation to ownership of Claridges and the Connaught Hotel, and a large-scale fraud claim against the former chief executive of a Nigerian bank.
Nicholas Lavender QC "can turn his hand to anything." He excels in large commercial cases, and wins praise as a "quick, charming and extremely able" leader, who is "an excellent draftsman."
Lance Ashworth QC has very recently joined the set from St Philips Chambers in Birmingham. Instructing solicitors interviewed before his move described him as being "on the same level as London barristers," and praised him for his technical and strategic proficiency.
Finally among the silks here, John Machell QC is "a really good all-rounder, who is willing to stand his ground and fight a case which is difficult." This "clever advocate who has the ability to make complex arguments seem simple" took silk this year.
Market observers comment that David Blayney QC is a very intellectual barrister who is impressive on his feet. He has acted as senior junior on litigation arising out of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Popular as ever, Jonathan Adkin QC is seen as an "astute and approachable barrister," who is "a brilliant draftsman." Instructing solicitors like him as he is "extremely responsive" and "effective in the way he presents himself."
JUNIORS Ruth den Besten is another forging a strong reputation at the set. Her highlights include an instruction from BTA Bank against Granton Trade to recover USD1.5 billion improperly lent as part of an alleged fraud by its former chairman.
Daniel Lightman's recent work includes acting on a major civil recoveries investigation by the Serious Organised Crime Agency before the Supreme Court. This case concerned whether £100 million in claims represented proceeds of crime.
Like Adkin, Justin Higgo maintains a strong reputation in commercial, commercial chancery and commercial fraud matters. He recently acted to defend the former chief executive of the NHS's commercial directorate on claims brought by the Secretary of State for Health.
THE SET A chancery set with "strength and depth," Wilberforce Chambers is noted for its seasoned silks and "excellent range of good young litigators and senior juniors." The set has real expertise in offshore work and handles a good deal of claims relating to financial institutions.
SILKS Ian Croxford QC is "a fine advocate," who opponents say is "brilliant in court." Such is his learning and manner that "judges always listen to him." He is a highly respected individual as is Terence Mowschenson QC, who has recently been acting for the Michailidis family on its high-value dispute with Crédit Agricole. Other highlights in his commercial work of late include Madoff-related litigation and a USD2 billion British Virgin Islands (BVI) oil rights dispute between Tullow and Caprikat.
John Wardell QC has a strong practice freighted with many a commercial fraud case. His recent cases include Ackerman v Ackerman, and Barbudev v ECMB, a case arising out of the sale of a cable television business in Bulgaria.
Alan Gourgey QC
of 11 Stone Buildings is "a powerful and persuasive advocate," and also "an excellent, creative strategist." He was singled out by sources for his "impressive ability to grasp complex issues of law and fact."
Charles Samek QC
has joined 11 Stone Buildings from Littleton Chambers. He is "an impressive litigator" with a special "talent for identifying and presenting the key issues in very complicated commercial disputes."
At the same set, Max Mallin
provides "excellent analysis" in conjunction with "good client skills." Instructing solicitors offer much in the way of praise: "Mallin is articulate and very commercial. He ticks all the boxes."
The set also plays host to the "highly impressive" Gary Lidington
, who is possessed of "a fast mind, displays excellent attention to detail," and is skilled at communicating complicated concepts to lay clients. Solicitors favour him as he is "intellectual, adept at mastering voluminous instructions, and capable of dealing with a case rigorously."
Others here include the "thorough and practical" Marcia Shekerdemian
. "Excellent with clients" as well as "user-friendly," she is a "good advocate and a superb all-rounder."
Market observers were effusive in their praise of Charles Dougherty QC
, who is based at 2 Temple Gardens. Sources say "he possesses an unbelievable knowledge of procedure in an astonishing number of different jurisdictions." Rated "a fantastic advocate," he "is logical and persuasive" and presents complex matters to the court in an easy-to-digest way.
Andrew Twigger QC
of 3 Stone Buildings is a barrister going places. Sources say that he is "highly thorough" in his approach and that "judges like his easy-going delivery; he is always easy to listen to and engaging."
Instructing solicitors say 4 New Square's Justin Fenwick QC
"is marvellous." In the well-known 'Innovator litigation', Fenwick represented law firm Collyer Bristow against allegations of vicarious liability for two allegedly dishonest former partners, one of whom also faces allegations of conspiracy with the promoters of a failed tax mitigation scheme.
Fenwick's stablemate is the "very client-friendly" and "very talented new silk" Anneliese Day QC
, who is a "thorough, dogged" litigator. Prior to taking silk, Day was led by Fenwick on behalf of Ernst & Young, the second defendants in a novel claim brought forward by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.
Nigel Tozzi QC
of 4 Pump Court is "an excellent all-rounder who is very good with clients." Sources say he is "a delight to work with as he is fiercely intelligent, creative, collaborative and passionate about achieving his clients' goals."
Also at this set, Christopher Moger QC
recently led a team for Société Générale in a claim against underwriters and brokers relating to USD480 million of bullion lost in Turkey. He has a wide practice and is increasingly involving himself with disputes emerging out of, or related to, China. Michael Douglas QC
, again of 4 Pump Court, is "brilliant at getting to the core points and presenting complicated arguments with clarity and punch." Instructing solicitors commend him for his dependable provision of "realistic and reliable advice on complex litigation matters."
His colleague in chambers Alexander Gunning QC
took silk this year and is praised for his "good grasp of detail, hands-on approach and quick response time." Ranked for the first time in commercial litigation this year, he has already been acknowledged for his expertise in energy, insurance, construction and arbitration matters.
Market observers note the increasing prevalence of "smiling assassin" Sean O'Sullivan
in the world of commercial disputes. He scales the rankings this year in reflection of his "thriving commercial practice." The "no-nonsense" O'Sullivan, sources say, is a "clear, modern advocate" who "combines charm with extreme effectiveness."
Another of the 4 Pump Court commercial juniors, Benjamin Pilling
is seen by instructing solicitors as hard-working and "very bright." He has a growing commercial profile and in the past year has acted on some well-publicised banking disputes. Lastly at 4 Pump Court, the "straight-talking" Luke Wygas
is a "really safe pair of hands." Solicitors say he is "highly thorough and quick to respond," and they appreciate him for his industry knowledge in IT disputes.
Jonathan Crow QC
of 4 Stone Buildings was praised by a plethora of sources. Opponents say facing Crow "requires you to have your wits about you; undoing him is difficult, which is always the mark of an effective lawyer." "Calm, smooth and accomplished," he is "an amazing all-rounder" and a "highly able speaker." Crow possesses "a particular facility for giving a spin to a point or a proposition of law which makes it sound entirely uncontroversial and totally acceptable."
Robert Miles QC
of the same set is "an immensely bright tactician and an extremely good advocate," who is both "charming and persuasive." "Calm and clinical," he provides the instructing solicitor with "assured advocacy." Head of chambers at 4 Stone Buildings is the "committed" George Bompas QC
, who is "one of the wisest heads around." Solicitors flock to him as he provides sage advice and is "more than willing to get into the detail of documents."
Another highly regarded member at this set is the "incredibly sharp" John Brisby QC
. He, too, was complimented by the market for the strength of his advocacy.
And rounding off this set's cadre of ranked commercial litigators, new silk Richard Hill QC
"is a very proactive, responsive lawyer" who is "a good advocate," according to sources. Instructing solicitors highlight his "great attention to detail" and praise him for his "exceptional judgement."
Over at 39 Essex Street, Hodge Malek QC
recently acted on a massive aviation dispute with substantial private international law aspects between Blue Sky and Mahan Air. He also acted for the Financial Services Ombudsman on the well-publicised payment protection insurance mis-selling litigation. His set also includes James Ramsden
, who is "an absolute star" with a "smooth and confident approach." Ramsden is praised for his "commercially focused advice" and excellent client-handling skills.
The "unflappable" Paul Marshall
of No5 Chambers (London) has a broad commercial practice centring on disputes within the insurance, licensing and civil fraud worlds.
Though most prominent in construction-related matters, Crown Office Chambers' "tremendously experienced and wise" Roger ter Haar QC
continues to have an acclaimed profile in the general commercial sphere. Instructing solicitors liken him to a polymath, saying: "He is incredibly clever in a broad way, not just about a particular topic but about almost everything." Ben Lynch
of Devereux Chambers is identified by sources as a junior worth paying careful attention to. One instructing solicitor said Lynch "is an incredibly bright junior, who is extremely responsive and highly commercial."
At Five Paper, Simon Mills
is an established name who "always delivers quality work," sources say. They applaud his "commercial awareness and tactical brilliance" and confirm that he consistently "adds value and achieves results."
of Enterprise Chambers is "good on his feet" and "highly user-friendly." Instructing solicitors are quick to say they value his "pragmatic and focused approach," and add: "He is not shy to tell you when you're wrong." Linden Ife
of the same chambers continues to have "court presence," certainly adds value, and takes a "firm, forceful" and direct approach that rapidly leads her "to the crux" of a given matter.
Out in front at his set, Richard Snowden QC
of Erskine Chambers has a busy practice that recently saw him defending three Ryman Group directors in a minority shareholder claim against venture capitalist and Dragon's Den star Theo Paphitis. Other matters he has handled include acting for a Premier League chairman before the Court of Appeal to establish whether an unfair prejudice petition can be arbitrated.
Another silk at this set is David Chivers QC
, who has also had a large share of high-profile work in the previous year. One headline-grabbing example was his representation of Liverpool FC in its tumultuous takeover dispute with Hicks and Gillett.
Also at Erskine Chambers is James Potts QC
, "a high-calibre counsel" who is "approachable and good in court." Instructing solicitors say Potts is "totally on top of his game when handling shareholder disputes and unfair prejudice claims."
"Smooth as marble," David Lewis
of Hardwicke is lauded for his "punchy" style, and is seen as being "incredibly impressive," "highly user-friendly," "time-efficient" and, when required, "absolutely ferocious."
His set also includes Peter Kirby QC
, a strong commercial barrister who is "a strong advocate and a good pleader."
An "excellent technician" with a "great brain," Clive Freedman QC
of Littleton Chambers is spoken highly of by instructing solicitors, who say he is "an exceptional presence." He is "a particularly fabulous cross-examiner," who is "intimidatingly bright," according to those that use him.
Stuart Ritchie QC
of Littleton Chambers is "a superstar fully deserving of his appointment to silk this year." Instructing solicitors say Ritchie is an "on-the-ball," "incisive" and "deeply clever" lawyer who "adopts a good strategic approach" in commercial disputes.
Littleton's juniors include the popular Richard Perkoff
, whose "attention to detail is impressive," and Jonathan Cohen
, "a formidable advocate" whose "unusual commercial/employment expertise" overlap is a boon for many an instructing solicitor. Stablemate Chris Quinn
is noted for his "ability to identify key issues clearly and for being able to ask pertinent questions." Instructing solicitors say: "He understands the psychology of the way the court works," "engages with clients well," and "thinks on his feet well." Finally at this set, David Lascelles
is a very promising and "highly impressive" junior "with excellent analytical skills." Solicitors who instruct him say he is a "brilliant young advocate" who "inspires confidence" with his "exemplary" client manner and "comprehensive and commercial" advice.
At Matrix Chambers, Antony White QC
impresses market commentators with his creative and persuasive advocacy. He "plays things with a straight bat" and regularly performs above expectations.
Instructing solicitors also rave about Philip Moser QC
of Monckton Chambers, whose "technical and forensic analysis of the issues in a case is always spot-on." Solicitors also note his "fantastic bedside manner with clients" and characterise him as "formidable and highly authoritative as an advocate."
Scaling the rankings this year, Stephen Smith QC
of New Square Chambers has acted on some of the year's most high-profile disputes, including the BTA Bank claim against Ablyazov. Possessed of a "top-rate mind" and "a nice turn of phrase," he is liked by solicitors, as "judges know that he is an expert brief and he won't lead them astray." Smith is by all accounts "a phenomenally good lawyer with a human touch." Simon Adamyk
is "an extremely bright advocate" at the same set who "is right for a case where you need no stone unturned." "First-rate in terms of diligence and willingness to tackle difficult legal issues," he is a "prolifically hard worker."
Moving up in the rankings this year, Tim Akkouh
, also of New Square Chambers, has been described by solicitors as "very much a star in the making."
The "fiendishly intelligent" Keith Rowley QC
of Radcliffe Chambers is "a tenacious barrister with sublime advocacy skills" who has an "outstanding ability to digest complex documentation and put it into layman's terms." He is at a set that includes Shantanu Majumdar
, a man with "a very bright legal mind." Sources say he is "highly accessible, always dogged in pursuit of his case" and is someone who "provides sound commercial advice."
Also at Radcliffe Chambers, Dov Ohrenstein
impresses instructing solicitors with his "excellent delivery in court" and high level of responsiveness. He recently acted for a former company director accused of fraud and breach of fiduciary duties to the value of £3–4 million. His stablemate Ulick Staunton
is highly robust in the courtroom, sources say, and is praised for his "ability to provide concise, direct advice that is framed in the context of the client's wider commercial objectives." Instructing solicitors say he "gets to grips with the issues at hand with lightning speed."
Romie Tager QC
of Selborne Chambers moves up the rankings. Described as "a scrapper," commentators say he is "extremely good at trial." A "forceful advocate" who is "good in a sustained battle," Tager is a man who provides "excellent legal analysis" and has "first-class" cross-examination skills.
At South Square, Antony Zacaroli QC
continues to stand out. Sources say Zacaroli "is a first-rate silk, who is highly intelligent and yet able to explain complex matters simply. He never shies away from giving firm advice even in the most difficult of cases." Commentators confirm that he is "clearly one of the brightest young silks at the Bar." Sticking with South Square, sources say that Robin Dicker QC
is "meticulous in his thinking." "A strong advocate with a methodical and highly structured approach to submissions and documentation," he is a good choice for extremely complicated matters. According to commentators, he proves especially effective before the Court of Appeal.
Jeremy Goldring QC
is "highly clever in a most understated way." "Modest, thorough and impressive on his feet," he is "a low-key but effective advocate."
Juniors at this set include Ben Valentin
, who is incredibly popular with solicitors. One of those that instructs him said that working with Ben Valentin offers firms "a significant efficiency gain as he is able to see the wood for the trees strategically." He represents a boon to anyone looking to achieve the smooth and cost-effective running of high-stakes commercial litigation.
is another excellent South Square junior with a busy diary. Solicitors say the "quick-witted and bright" Smith "exudes star quality," and praise him for turning work around rapidly.
Also popular at the set is the "creative and bright" David Allison
, who recently acted for Goldman Sachs before the Supreme Court on the Lehman Brothers client money litigation.
Steven Gee QC
is head of chambers at Stone Chambers. Instructing solicitors say Gee is "quite brilliant" and possessed of "an ingenious mind." He is well known in the legal market for finding inventive solutions to unique and otherwise challenging legal problems.
is an up-and-comer at Gee's set who impresses sources with his ability to remain "entirely unflappable and highly confident when dealing with even the most challenging of legal work under severe time pressures."
At XXIV Old Buildings, Alan Steinfeld QC
is a natural choice for solicitors looking to instruct a "heavyweight" who "commands the utmost respect of his peers and of the judiciary." He is praised as "clever, analytical" and "someone who is up to scratch however complex the case." His stablemates include Robert Levy QC
, a barrister who sources say is "a wonderful advocate" and an "extremely engaging individual." He recently represented Alfa Telecoms in a dispute with Çukurova Holdings before the courts in the BVI, which concerned a significant stake in the Turkish telecoms industry.
Elspeth Talbot Rice QC
is another silk at XXIV Old Buildings with a strong reputation in the market. Solicitors say she possesses a "quick mind to cut through the detail" and is an "excellent advocate."
Finally among XXIV Old Building's silks, Francis Tregear QC
wins commendation for being "creative in the way he looks at problems which involve disputes concerning hedge funds." Others identify him as someone who is "wonderful with clients, imaginative" and blessed with the "ability to keep a very cool head at all times."
Juniors at this set include the "exceptionally wise" John Stephens
, who solicitors say "provides reasoned, pragmatic and commercial advice on both the merits and strategy of a case."