THE SET Blackstone Chambers continues to be by some distance the dominant set in the sports law sector. It has a depth and breadth to its sports group which no other chambers can even come close to, and it houses proven experts in all areas where sports clients need assistance. Broadcasting, regulation, disciplinary, doping, sponsorship and ticketing issues are all catered for. Clients note that the set is "the market leader because the barristers' knowledge is unsurpassed, and also because they understand client service." Commentators further commented on the incredible depth of quality on offer: "Blackstone's dominance is reflected by the fact that they have Adam Lewis QC, David Pannick QC, Ian Mill QC - these are titans of sports law."
SILKS Adam Lewis QC remains quite simply "the top man at the Bar for sports cases." His practice embraces competition law, public law and human rights, and his caseload is the most sports-focused of anyone practising at the Bar. He has been instructed in important cases across all the major sports, and he is, as his peers note, "just a true sports law specialist; he has such huge experience that he is a massive asset in a major cases." Client sources were extravagant in their praise for "a counsel who is seriously bright, but yet down-to-earth." One solicitor commented: "He is meticulous and thorough in his preparation, and is demanding - as he has to be. What you get is the best service you'll ever have." He is currently acting for FIFA on Mohamed Bin Hammam's appeal against his suspension from the organisation. He is also acting for Chelsea FC in relation to former player Adrian Mutu's ECHR proceedings challenging a previous award of EUR17 million to the club in compensation for breach of contract.
Ian Mill QC is one of the very top choices if you have a complex sports dispute and you need a true advocate. As one client stated, "Ian Mill QC is the only choice if you need someone to bloody some noses." Another commented that "one of the reasons why Ian Mill is so obviously a great barrister is that he 'gets' it; he's always available, he gives the advice we need and he gets us the win." He has considerable expertise across a broad range of sports, although he has created the most headlines recently in football, acting for the Premier League in defending a claim brought by Leyton Orient concerning the league's decision to allow West Ham United FC to become tenants of the Stratford Olympic Stadium.
David Pannick QC might not handle quite the volume of sports work that some of his colleagues at Blackstone Chambers manage, but does bring his "truly awesome intellect" to bear in high-profile sports matters. "He is one of the absolute leading lights of the Bar, and someone who brings gravitas to a major case." He recently provided advice to the British Olympic Association in relation to its high-profile dispute with LOCOG.
Michael Beloff QC is a sports law stalwart. "An excellent thinker and advocate, he provides clear and concise advice" and has great experience. He has recently been advising UK Anti-Doping as to implementation of the national anti-doping policy in a number of sports. He also advised the RFU with regard to the eligibility of overseas players.
Andrew Green QC's broad general commercial practice transfers perfectly to the sports sector. He has been instructed by both clubs and governing bodies in a number of sports, and recently advised Birmingham City FC on its dispute with former manager Alex McLeish. He also acted for the RFU in a highly publicised case against Viagogo, successfully obtaining an order forcing the secondary ticketing website to reveal the identities of thousands of sellers of tickets for Six Nations matches at Twickenham.
Paul Goulding QC has forged a tremendous reputation for handling employment cases in the sports sector. Clients applaud his "extreme diligence, impressive breadth of knowledge and ability to get directly to the nub of the matter." He is perhaps best recognised for his work in football, although he has also acted for clients in significant cases in tennis, cricket and motor racing.
Robert Howe QC is "excellent at difficult or novel media rights issues." He has worked with a broad array of sports participants and sports bodies connected to football, rugby and tennis.
Pushpinder Saini QC has a broad-ranging involvement in the sports sector. He is principally recognised for his expertise in commercial and broadcasting disputes, although he also undertakes disciplinary proceedings. By way of example, he recently acted for the Indian Premier League in the prosecution of Mohammed Asif concerning performance-enhancing drugs. Clients appreciate that "he gets straight to the point and is hugely user-friendly."
Andrew Hunter QC has very successfully translated his commercial disputes practice into the sports sphere. Clients are enthusiastic in praising a barrister who "works extremely well as part of a case team," and has "a refreshing willingness to provide immediate and whole-hearted support." He is known for his "strategic insight born of a genuine depth of knowledge in the sector." He recently acted for Lotus Renault Formula One team in successfully defending an action brought against it by one of its drivers.
Charles Flint QC is increasingly involved in the sports sector. He acts as an arbitrator in sports disputes, and also represents both sports participants and sports bodies.
Robert Anderson QC has a tremendous breadth of sports expertise, which principally comprises work for Premier League and Football League member clubs, but also encompasses instructions on behalf of clients from the worlds of cricket, tennis, Formula One and rugby union. He acted for Portsmouth FC in its high-profile dispute with HMRC over unpaid VAT. Clients are impressed with his "ability to give us a relatively short opinion which is absolutely on the money."
JUNIORS Jane Mulcahy is an employment and sports lawyer of considerable experience, who has a tremendous track record in sports disputes, especially those revolving around football. She is adored by clients for her complete commitment to client service.
Nick De Marco has cemented his position as "a go-to junior on any football regulatory issue." He was previously a director of QPR FC, and is regularly instructed in high-profile cases within football, such as his current representation of former England international Joey Barton in disciplinary proceedings brought against him by The FA for violent misconduct. He has worked with clients in a broad range of sports, including UK Sport, the Lawn Tennis Association, the Welsh Rugby Union, The Ryder Cup and the World Professional Billiard & Snooker Association. Commentators note that "he has an excellent all-round knowledge of sports law, and an easy style that clients appreciate."
Kate Gallafent maintains a broad and varied involvement in the sports sector, and has proven herself to be a legal expert in a wide range of sports, including rugby, tennis and athletics. Commentators in the sector particularly recognise her as "clearly the leading expert in child protection work in sport; she has done tremendous work on the safeguarding side." Another key strand of her practice is anti-doping work, and she was recently instructed by the RFU against Sale Sharks prop Karena Wihongi. This was a high-profile case concerning anti-doping violations stemming from contaminated nutritional supplements.
Tom Richards is one of the set's future stars of the Sports Bar. He receives considerable accolades from clients, and has transferred his commercial litigation expertise seamlessly to the sports sector. He is being led by Adam Lewis QC, acting for Leyton Orient FC in the high-profile Olympic Stadium case.
James Segan is "an excellent junior with strong client skills and a blossoming sports practice." Commentators note his work with the RFU, which recently involved acting for the governing body in a notable Norwich Pharmacal application against secondary ticketing website Viagogo. He has also been involved with prominent cases in football, and more recently in athletics, in which capacity he was instructed by the British Olympic Association in successfully defending several disputes relating to selection decisions in taekwondo, judo and wrestling.
Tom Hickman's involvement in the sports industry has grown as an extension of his work in the media and entertainment sectors. His involvement has been principally related to football, and he was recently successful in acting for Brentford FC in a Rule K challenge regarding the 'tapping up' of a player under contract. Clients describe him as "very approachable, able to turn matters around quickly and hugely commercially minded."
Brian Kennelly was appointed to the Sports Advocacy Section of the London 2012 Olympic Games pro bono legal advice service, although commentators have traditionally associated him with football. He acted for Turkish football club Fenerbahçe at CAS in relation to its expulsion from the Champions League in the wake of match fixing allegations.