London (Bar) - Licensing Lawyers & Law Firms - UK Bar - Chambers and Partners
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UK-Bar Guide

Licensing — London (Bar)

Band 1

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET
A key set in licensing, with members who are often retained to act in high-profile and precedent-setting cases. Its barristers are instructed across the range of licensing issues, and regularly appear in cases concerning gambling, premises, taxis and SEV mandates. It is considered the set of choice by many operators, venues and licensing authorities. One enthusiastic source highlighted the depth of strength amongst the team. "The chambers overall is excellent - whoever I get to instruct has great knowledge."

Client service: The principal clerk is Tom Rook who is said to be "very prompt and on the ball." "The clerks are brilliant, they are really efficient and really helpful. They get things done."

SILKS

Gerald Gouriet QC
An advocate with a stellar track record who is often chosen to act in licensing appeals of the utmost complexity. He provides unparalleled support in liquor, taxi and gambling cases, and acts for a diverse client base that includes local authorities, late-night venues and gambling establishments.
Strengths: "He's very polished and very smooth. An extremely bright man, he's engaging and very well liked." "He can be utterly devastating in getting to the heart of the case and turning it in his client's favour."
Recent work: Resisted a review of the premises licence of London Edition, a major London hotel. The matter was heavily contested by local residents.

David Matthias QC
Go-to licensing barrister for local authorities in London, particularly Westminster City Council. He frequently appears in the highest-profile matters concerning intricate questions of licensing law. Judicial reviews are a special area of expertise.
Strengths: "A very powerful advocate, who has a great will to win cases."
Recent work: Represented Westminster Council in a licence review against Merlot 73 regarding its Mayfair nightclub, The Aura.

Jeremy Phillips QC
Especially valued for his academic knowledge of the breadth of licensing law, he advises large-scale corporations and community groups. He also has experience in judicial review matters.
Strengths: "His intimate knowledge of the minutiae of licensing law is remarkable." "His courteous but knowledgeable manner instils confidence in clients, and he exudes gravitas before tribunals." "He's a great man to have on your side when the questions are awkward."

JUNIORS

Gary Grant
Deals with the full range of issues stemming from premises licence applications, particularly those involving significant variations and reviews. He represents prominent bars and restaurants, but can also be found on the side of the local authority.
Strengths: "He's very approachable and pragmatic and obviously very knowledgeable." "He's both brilliant and a barrister with a sense of humour which helps."
Recent work: Acted for Tate in a complex premises licence application following the expansion of Tate Modern.

James Rankin
Able to advise on all aspects of licensing law as a result of his extensive experience in the sector. He is sought after for his outstanding advocacy skills, and regularly appears for the trade in applications and appeals.
Strengths: "He's like James Bond; he's very smooth and charming. He has impeccable presentation, and he's definitely one of the most experienced licensing juniors in the country."
Recent work: Acted for Q Grill in Camden in a licence appeal against Camden Council to permit bar use in the premises.

Leo Charalambides
Has a strong practice that sees him handling instructions from across the country. He often acts on behalf of local authorities tackling a range of issues, including those relating to alcohol, late-night refreshments and caravan licensing. He further acts for venues.
Strengths: "Very detailed; he goes through every document and helps us strengthen the case." "He covers the full spectrum of alcohol and entertainment cases."
Recent work: Acted for McDonald's in various contested applications to extend opening hours in cumulative impact zones.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET
A market-leading set with a broad range of outstanding individuals who provide comprehensive licensing coverage to operators, venues, licensing authorities and police bodies. Although known predominantly for its premises and liquor licensing focus, the set also handles taxi, Security Industry Authority (SIA) and sexual entertainment venue (SEV) licensing matters. Sources are particularly impressed by the depth of the team, saying: "Some of the juniors who are only two or three years call are really good. They are not only good at advocacy but also incredibly bright and exceptionally hard-working."

Client service: The clerking team, in particular Dean Brown, receive effusive praise. "Dean is fantastic; he's always available out of hours and at short-term notice, and he does everything promptly. The team overall is responsive and organised." Eddie Holland is the senior clerk at the set.

SILKS

Stephen Walsh QC
Handles licensing applications for prominent casinos, late-night venues and restaurants, and is also adept at dealing with judicial reviews, licence reviews and appeals. He receives praise for his ability to adapt his advocacy style to accommodate the needs of different tribunals.
Strengths: "If anyone is going to persuade Westminster City Council it's him. He's down-to-earth, clear, concise and really good on matters of policy." "He's very skilful, very charming, exceptionally diplomatic and very practical. What more could you want from a QC?"
Recent work: Acted for The Ivy Brasserie in its application to licence a new location in South London.

Michael Bromley-Martin QC
Acts for both local residents and licensees in various proceedings. He brings his criminal law advocacy skills to bear in contentious matters, representing clients in appeals and judicial reviews.
Strengths: "He's a real fighter. He's intelligent, fanatical and has great ability. If you want somebody to get the gloves off and fight the case he's the only person to do it."
Strengths: Represented residents appealing the decision of a licence that was granted by Westminster City Council.

JUNIORS

Sarah Le Fevre
Regularly involved with some of the highest-profile cases involving premises licences, she chiefly represents operators but is also able to assist local authorities. Le Fevre is widely praised for her contentious practice, but she also has a strong advisory practice.
Strengths: "She is a steel fist in a velvet glove; she's very friendly and compassionate but don't be fooled into thinking she's soft." "Her experience shines through when you meet with her. Clients also like that she's been a publican before."
Recent work: Acted for SophistiCats to secure a late-night premises licence as well as a variation of its SEV licence in Soho.

Saba Naqshbandi
Frequently advises well-known operators and is called on to appear in challenging tribunal hearings. She is widely praised for her meticulous attention to detail.
Strengths: "If you have a nervous client she can always reassure them, as they can see how well prepared she is." "She has an incredible eye for detail and her preparation is a work of art."
Recent work: Represented Kensington Roof Gardens in a high-profile licence review.

Matthew Butt
Advises various players in the market, such as the police, Transport for London and late-night venues. He has a broad practice handling work ranging from taxi licensing and SEV licence applications to licence reviews.
Strengths: "He's very charming, very persuasive and clear, and he goes to the nub of a problem straight away." "If it's a tricky point of law that needs a written opinion (how to interpret the wording of the law, for example) he is the person for that."
Recent work: Instructed to represent the Bike Shed in an application for a new premises licence within the Shoreditch special policy area.

Rachel Kapila
Attracts prestigious clients from the security, retail and restaurant sectors. Clients note that she has in-depth knowledge of the full scope of licensing law matters.
Strengths: "She's sharp as a tack and really gets to the point very quickly."
Recent work: Acting for burger chain Honest Burgers in application for the Paddington premises.

Guy Ladenburg
Boasts a broad practice acting for the police as well as operators. Contested licence applications are a key area of focus for him, and he is an expert in liquor, SEV, betting and gaming, as well as a number of related regulatory areas.
Strengths: "He's very good in cross-examination, and very assertive." "He offers a very good insight into cases. He is particularly strong when advising on matters involving the police."
Recent work: Instructed to represent the William IV, a Kensal Green pub, in a nuisance prosecution at Brent Magistrates’ Court.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

THE SET
A set regularly involved in high-profile, significant licensing appeals, reviews and hearings that is a key choice for venues, licensing authorities and the Metropolitan Police. Recently several of its members were involved in Fabric v London Borough of Islington, acting on all sides of the dispute. As well as its prominent licensing reputation the set is also known for its strength in SEV, SIA and taxi matters.

Client service: "All of the clerks, led by Ben Connor, are fantastic, friendly, approachable and flexible." "They can't do enough for you, they get things done very quickly and fees are always competitive. They're very willing to listen to you and find out what you can afford."

SILKS

Philip Kolvin QC
Routinely instructed to act in the most significant of licensing matters. His practice encompasses cases concerning premises licences, SEVs and gambling concerns. He remains the preferred barrister for a number of clients from many sectors, and also acts for several licensing authorities.
Strengths: "Always to be found at the cutting edge of licensing decisions, he has an amazingly incisive mind, and produces proactive and clear advice." "Philip's reputation undoubtedly now precedes him. He is, almost certainly, the pre-eminent licensing counsel in England and Wales." "You can't talk about licensing without talking about Philip."

Ranjit Bhose QC
Regularly acts for local authorities in licensing appeals and reviews. He advises on premises and events licensing matters concerning high-profile venues and festivals.
Strengths: "Polished, confident counsel, who's very on the ball."
Recent work: Represented the London Borough of Haringey in a licensing appeal against its decision to let out Finsbury Park for the 2016 Wireless Festival.

James Findlay QC
Brings general public law expertise to bear when representing governmental bodies in licensing disputes. He is frequently called upon to act in taxi licensing disputes, and acts for both governmental bodies and operators.
Strengths: "A thoroughly nice man" who is "good when it comes to clever legal points."
Recent work: Acted for Cardiff City Council in a dispute regarding taxi and private hire licensing fees.

JUNIORS

Asitha Ranatunga
Has a client base that predominantly consists of local authorities and the police. He regularly works on appeals and summary review proceedings involving the revocation of licences or the denial of licence applications. Sources are particularly impressed by his detailed and meticulous approach.
Strengths: "It's his experience, his knowledge, and his approach to cases that impress. He's always on top of the facts and thoroughly prepared." "He makes things easy for us because he's so well prepared and so well organised."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police in Fabric v London Borough of Islington in a summary review to revoke the premises licence for Fabric following two deaths on the premises.

Josef Cannon
Handles a diverse array of work including judicial reviews, local authority prosecutions, SIA licence matters and premises licence applications. Sources are quick to compliment him on his client-friendly approach. Cannon principally acts for councils and public bodies.
Strengths: "He gives no-nonsense, practical advice, he bears in mind the economics of the situation, he's very good with clients, and he's always prepared to go the extra mile." "He's very personable, he's incredibly likeable, and the court warms to him. Whatever he does is effective."
Recent work: Acted for Ealing Council in an application to vary the licence conditions of a pet shop following multiple convictions for licence breaches brought against the owner's husband in a different London borough.

Rory Clarke
Frequently involved in licence reviews of late-night venues, where he acts for both licensees and the Metropolitan Police. Sources highlight his experience and the insight he offers when handling complex mandates.
Strengths: "Absolutely brilliant at drafting documents. When you instruct him you get a very good overall picture, and all your options and potential outcomes are laid out for you." "Rory gets to the heart of the case very quickly."
Recent work: Acted for the Metropolitan Police in a licensing review of VuVu, a nightclub in Bromley.

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Gerald Gouriet QC

A

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Gerald Gouriet QC
An advocate with a stellar track record who is often chosen to act in licensing appeals of the utmost complexity. He provides unparalleled support in liquor, taxi and gambling cases, and acts for a diverse client base that includes local authorities, late-night venues and gambling establishments.
Strengths: "He's very polished and very smooth. An extremely bright man, he's engaging and very well liked." "He can be utterly devastating in getting to the heart of the case and turning it in his client's favour."
Recent work: Resisted a review of the premises licence of London Edition, a major London hotel. The matter was heavily contested by local residents.

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Philip Kolvin QC

A

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Philip Kolvin QC
Routinely instructed to act in the most significant of licensing matters. His practice encompasses cases concerning premises licences, SEVs and gambling concerns. He remains the preferred barrister for a number of clients from many sectors, and also acts for several licensing authorities. 
Strengths: "Always to be found at the cutting edge of licensing decisions, he has an amazingly incisive mind, and produces proactive and clear advice." "Philip's reputation undoubtedly now precedes him. He is, almost certainly, the pre-eminent licensing counsel in England and Wales." "You can't talk about licensing without talking about Philip."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Stephen Walsh QC

A

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Stephen Walsh QC
Handles licensing applications for prominent casinos, late-night venues and restaurants, and is also adept at dealing with judicial reviews, licence reviews and appeals. He receives praise for his ability to adapt his advocacy style to accommodate the needs of different tribunals.
Strengths: "If anyone is going to persuade Westminster City Council it's him. He's down-to-earth, clear, concise and really good on matters of policy." "He's very skilful, very charming, exceptionally diplomatic and very practical. What more could you want from a QC?"
Recent work: Acted for The Ivy Brasserie in its application to licence a new location in South London.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Susanna FitzGerald QC

One Essex Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Susanna FitzGerald QC of One Essex Court
Endorsed by peers and clients for her experience with gambling and gaming licensing matters, she often appears in the most significant cases in these areas. She regularly advises on complex points of regulation and law.
Strengths: "Has unique and extensive knowledge of not just the law but also the gambling industry." "She's an icon and has had some very, very high-profile cases. She's the whole package and the consummate performer." 
Recent work: Advised Cheshire Sporting Club on varying a casino premises licence so that the premises to which the licence related could be relocated.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

David Matthias QC

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

David Matthias QC
Go-to licensing barrister for local authorities in London, particularly Westminster City Council. He frequently appears in the highest-profile matters concerning intricate questions of licensing law. Judicial reviews are a special area of expertise. 
Strengths: "A very powerful advocate, who has a great will to win cases."
Recent work: Represented Westminster Council in a licence review against Merlot 73 regarding its Mayfair nightclub, The Aura.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Kevin de Haan QC

A

Gough Square Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Kevin de Haan QC of Gough Square Chambers
A well-regarded gambling and e-commerce licensing expert, noted for his ability to deal with cases concerning both domestic licensing and multiple jurisdictions.
Strengths: "He's particularly sought after for online gaming advisory work." "He comes up with points that others miss."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Martin S Heslop QC

2 Hare Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Martin Heslop QC of 2 Hare Court 
Long-established advocate working exclusively on behalf of the trade. He is especially noted for his licensing work in the gambling sector, but also regularly handles premises and liquor licensing cases.
Strengths: "An old-school Old Bailey advocate," whose "judgement and strategic thinking are exemplary."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Ranjit Bhose QC
Regularly acts for local authorities in licensing appeals and reviews. He advises on premises and events licensing matters concerning high-profile venues and festivals.
Strengths: "Polished, confident counsel, who's very on the ball."
Recent work: Represented the London Borough of Haringey in a licensing appeal against its decision to let out Finsbury Park for the 2016 Wireless Festival.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Michael Bromley-Martin QC

A

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Michael Bromley-Martin QC
Acts for both local residents and licensees in various proceedings. He brings his criminal law advocacy skills to bear in contentious matters, representing clients in appeals and judicial reviews.
Strengths: "He's a real fighter. He's intelligent, fanatical and has great ability. If you want somebody to get the gloves off and fight the case he's the only person to do it."
Strengths: Represented residents appealing the decision of a licence that was granted by Westminster City Council.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

James Findlay QC
Brings general public law expertise to bear when representing governmental bodies in licensing disputes. He is frequently called upon to act in taxi licensing disputes, and acts for both governmental bodies and operators.
Strengths: "A thoroughly nice man" who is "good when it comes to clever legal points."
Recent work: Acted for Cardiff City Council in a dispute regarding taxi and private hire licensing fees.

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

9 Bedford Row

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Peter Glenser QC of 9 Bedford Row
Has cornered the market in firearms licensing, and regularly defends private clients who have breached firearm licence requirements. He is praised for the depth of his knowledge of this area.
Strengths: "A lawyer with a good network of connections in the firearms community" who is "approachable, amenable and always well liked by clients."

^ See whole ranking table

New Silk

Jeremy Phillips QC

A

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Jeremy Phillips QC
Especially valued for his academic knowledge of the breadth of licensing law, he advises large-scale corporations and community groups. He also has experience in judicial review matters.
Strengths: "His intimate knowledge of the minutiae of licensing law is remarkable." "His courteous but knowledgeable manner instils confidence in clients, and he exudes gravitas before tribunals." "He's a great man to have on your side when the questions are awkward."

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Gary Grant
Deals with the full range of issues stemming from premises licence applications, particularly those involving significant variations and reviews. He represents prominent bars and restaurants, but can also be found on the side of the local authority. 
Strengths: "He's very approachable and pragmatic and obviously very knowledgeable." "He's both brilliant and a barrister with a sense of humour which helps."
Recent work: Acted for Tate in a complex premises licence application following the expansion of Tate Modern.

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Sarah Le Fevre 
Regularly involved with some of the highest-profile cases involving premises licences, she  chiefly represents operators but is also able to assist local authorities. Le Fevre is widely praised for her contentious practice, but she also has a strong advisory practice.
Strengths: "She is a steel fist in a velvet glove; she's very friendly and compassionate but don't be fooled into thinking she's soft." "Her experience shines through when you meet with her. Clients also like that she's been a publican before."
Recent work: Acted for SophistiCats to secure a late-night premises licence as well as a variation of its SEV licence in Soho.

^ See whole ranking table

Star Individuals

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

James Rankin 
Able to advise on all aspects of licensing law as a result of his extensive experience in the sector. He is sought after for his outstanding advocacy skills, and regularly appears for the trade in applications and appeals.
Strengths: "He's like James Bond; he's very smooth and charming. He has impeccable presentation, and he's definitely one of the most experienced licensing juniors in the country."
Recent work: Acted for Q Grill in Camden in a licence appeal against Camden Council to permit bar use in the premises.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Leo Charalambides

Francis Taylor Building

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Leo Charalambides
Has a strong practice that sees him handling instructions from across the country. He often acts on behalf of local authorities tackling a range of issues, including those relating to alcohol, late-night refreshments and caravan licensing. He further acts for venues.
Strengths: "Very detailed; he goes through every document and helps us strengthen the case." "He covers the full spectrum of alcohol and entertainment cases."
Recent work: Acted for McDonald's in various contested applications to extend opening hours in cumulative impact zones.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Saba Naqshbandi

A

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Saba Naqshbandi
Frequently advises well-known operators and is called on to appear in challenging tribunal hearings. She is widely praised for her meticulous attention to detail.
Strengths: "If you have a nervous client she can always reassure them, as they can see how well prepared she is." "She has an incredible eye for detail and her preparation is a work of art."
Recent work: Represented Kensington Roof Gardens in a high-profile licence review.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 1

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Asitha Ranatunga
Has a client base that predominantly consists of local authorities and the police. He regularly works on appeals and summary review proceedings involving the revocation of licences or the denial of licence applications. Sources are particularly impressed by his detailed and meticulous approach.
Strengths: "It's his experience, his knowledge, and his approach to cases that impress. He's always on top of the facts and thoroughly prepared." "He makes things easy for us because he's so well prepared and so well organised."
Recent work: Represented the Metropolitan Police in Fabric v London Borough of Islington in a summary review to revoke the premises licence for Fabric following two deaths on the premises.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Matthew Butt 
Advises various players in the market, such as the police, Transport for London and late-night venues. He has a broad practice handling work ranging from taxi licensing and SEV licence applications to licence reviews. 
Strengths: "He's very charming, very persuasive and clear, and he goes to the nub of a problem straight away." "If it's a tricky point of law that needs a written opinion (how to interpret the wording of the law, for example) he is the person for that."  
Recent work: Instructed to represent the Bike Shed in an application for a new premises licence within the Shoreditch special policy area.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 2

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Josef Cannon
Handles a diverse array of work including judicial reviews, local authority prosecutions, SIA licence matters and premises licence applications. Sources are quick to compliment him on his client-friendly approach. Cannon principally acts for councils and public bodies.
Strengths: "He gives no-nonsense, practical advice, he bears in mind the economics of the situation, he's very good with clients, and he's always prepared to go the extra mile." "He's very personable, he's incredibly likeable, and the court warms to him. Whatever he does is effective." 
Recent work: Acted for Ealing Council in an application to vary the licence conditions of a pet shop following multiple convictions for licence breaches brought against the owner's husband in a different London borough.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Cornerstone Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Rory Clarke
Frequently involved in licence reviews of late-night venues, where he acts for both licensees and the Metropolitan Police. Sources highlight his experience and the insight he offers when handling complex mandates.
Strengths: "Absolutely brilliant at drafting documents. When you instruct him you get a very good overall picture, and all your options and potential outcomes are laid out for you." "Rory gets to the heart of the case very quickly."
Recent work: Acted for the Metropolitan Police in a licensing review of VuVu, a nightclub in Bromley.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Six Pump Court

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Stuart Jessop of Six Pump Court
Increasingly visible in premises licensing mandates, he predominantly represents venues in premises licence appeals and reviews. Jessop also handles taxi and entertainment licence concerns.
Strengths: "He can have a case file for five minutes and know it inside out straight away. He doesn't get caught out by curve balls." "The advice he gives to clients is clear and concise." 
Recent work: Acted for Dee Dees Bar in a premises licensing appeal against Southwark Borough Council.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Rachel Kapila
Attracts prestigious clients from the security, retail and restaurant sectors. Clients note that she has in-depth knowledge of the full scope of licensing law matters.
Strengths: "She's sharp as a tack and really gets to the point very quickly."
Recent work: Acting for burger chain Honest Burgers in application for the Paddington premises.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

3 Raymond Buildings Barristers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Guy Ladenburg 
Boasts a broad practice acting for the police as well as operators. Contested licence applications are a key area of focus for him, and he is an expert in liquor, SEV, betting and gaming, as well as a number of related regulatory areas.
Strengths: "He's very good in cross-examination, and very assertive." "He offers a very good insight into cases. He is particularly strong when advising on matters involving the police."
Recent work: Instructed to represent the William IV, a Kensal Green pub, in a nuisance prosecution at Brent Magistrates’ Court.

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Tanfield Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Stephen Monkcom of Tanfield Chambers
Has a strong advisory licensing practice, with special emphasis on the gaming and gambling sectors. He has an enviable reputation in this area and is widely known for his academic prowess. 
Strengths: "Enormously learned" and "one of the best opinion writers around." "His knowledge is encyclopaedic."

^ See whole ranking table

Band 3

Landmark Chambers

From the Chambers UK Bar guide

Stephen Whale of Landmark Chambers 
Primarily deals with judicial reviews and appeals. He has experience of issues relating to premises licences and is often instructed in matters which reach the High Court.
Strengths: "He's very meticulous and does his homework. He's also very, very good at cross-examination."

^ See whole ranking table

A

Direct access enables barristers to be instructed without the involvement (and financial cost) of an intermediary such as a solicitor. It comes in two forms: licensed access and public access. More information can be found here.