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Practice Area Definitions UK Bar

Below are the legal practice area definitions and regional variations used by Chambers to rank barristers and sets in the UK Bar Guide.

Administrative & Public Law

This section covers judicial reviews, statutory appeals, inquiries, disciplinary proceedings and non-contentious advice on the powers and administrative functions of central and local government and other public and regulatory bodies. The section includes matters relating to competitive tendering, public procurement, environmental issues and employment and discrimination law. European and Human Rights law increasingly features in the practice of lawyers ranked in this section.


Agriculture & Rural Affairs

This section is not confined to any one body of laws, but rather includes disciplines such as real property law, and private client concerns that are of particular consequence to farmers, wealthy families and rural business owners. Lawyers operating under this heading are often instructed to manage estates and help mitigate the exposure of inheriting beneficiaries to tax bills. More niche areas of expertise, such as equine and bloodstock law, also fall within the remit of this section.

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Aviation

This section covers a broad range of work carried out by barristers for clients in the aviation and related industries. Specialists in this sector handle insurance coverage cases, regulatory matters, and other non-insurance related commercial disputes. They also assist victims and their families in claims arising from both commercial and non-commercial aviation accidents.

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Banking & Finance

This section principally focuses on litigation relating to commercial banking activities. Types of matters include litigation for claims of mis-selling of financial products, professional negligence, breaches of warranty, civil fraud and matters arising out of bank failures and state bailouts.

See also: Financial Services; Restructuring / Insolvency

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Chancery

This section is split into two tables: Chancery: Commercial and Chancery: Traditional.

Chancery Commercial: concerns all commercially related cases heard in the Chancery Division including company, shareholder, partnership, banking, pensions, financial services, insolvency, professional negligence, tax, media and IP matters.

Chancery Traditional : concerns such areas as trusts, probate, real property, charities and mortgages cases.

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Charities

This section covers all types of work conducted for third sector clients, including both contentious and non-contentious work. This includes work ranging from sector-specific advice on constitutional and governance issues or public benefit requirements, to more general advice on corporate, property, employment and tax issues.

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Civil Liberties

The section covers violations of rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights by the government, media and organisations, in the way they behave towards individuals. It features cases involving judicial review proceedings and also cases brought before the European Court of Human Rights.

See also: Administrative & Public Law; Immigration; Police Law

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Clinical Negligence

Barristers ranked in this section are instructed to handle allegations of negligent acts committed by professionals working in the healthcare or pharmaceutical sectors. These cases usually arise from accusations that the defendants did not follow accepted industry practices, leading to injury or death to the patient or claimant. The section covers both those who represent the defendants or their employers and those who bring claims on behalf of individuals seeking compensation for their injuries.

See also: Personal Injury; Professional Discipline; Insurance; Court of Protection

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Commercial Dispute Resolution

This section ranks those sets and individuals that advise on civil litigation, principally on behalf of businesses and high net worth individuals. This is an intentionally broad category, and the sets which rank most highly tend to demonstrate genuine strength in a wide array of disciplines.

See also: Banking & Finance; Real Estate; Professional Negligence; Fraud; Insurance; Restructuring / Insolvency ; International Arbitration; Mediators

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Competition

This section encompasses contentious and non-contentious matters arising under EU, domestic and international competition law, including cartels, abuse of a dominant market position, state aid and merger control. Please note that public procurement work is considered under Public Procurement.

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Community Care

Concerns decisions of public bodies dealing with housing provision and adult and children social services. Matters covered include closure of residential care homes and hospitals,  charging issues, local authority funding, disputes between social services authorities and health authorities and formulation of local authority policy.

See also: Court of Protection

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Construction

This section covers contractual dispute work within the construction industry for both the suppliers (eg developers, contractors, engineers and architects), and those clients employing (purchasers) these types of companies, for example corporate entities or state authorities, on their building plans and developments. Such developments can include single blocks or multi-building developments.

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Consumer Law

Covers all manner of consumer related law including cases relating to trading standards, food law, consumer credit, and sale and supply of goods and services.

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Court of Protection

This section covers all proceedings of the Court of Protection concerning individuals who are considered to have lost the capacity to make their own decisions according to the Mental Capacity Act. Court proceedings relate to the management of an individual's property and financial affairs, or their health and welfare, with the individual represented by those with Lasting Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney, or by an individual appointed by the Court as a deputy. The section is split into two tables: Court of Protection: Health & Welfare and Court of Protection: Property & Affairs. 

See also: Clinical Negligence; Personal Injury; Community Care

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Crime

Criminal law has a number of different branches, but the crime section concentrates on what might be deemed 'serious' crime including illegal drugs, assault, sexual offences, terrorism and homicide. It covers work at all levels, from the Magistrates Court all the way to the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights. We do not include criminal fraud here, as it has its own section.

See also: POCA; Fraud: Criminal

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Data Protection

Data Protection covers all aspects of law surrounding the control of information by both public and private sector bodies. Many individuals acting in this arena advise clients on the development of binding corporate rules and other issues relating to international data transfers. The section also includes work arising from Freedom of Information Act requests. Another significant type of work involves the defence of clients facing potential fines for data protection breaches, levied by the Information Commissioner's Office, and the Financial Services Authority.

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Defamation / Privacy

This section ranks sets and individual barristers who handle defamation proceedings (ie libel and slander) on behalf of claimants and defendants. It also highlights those barristers who specialise in matters relating to invasion of privacy.

See also: Media & Entertainment

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Education

Barristers in this section advise pupils and their parents on matters such as special educational needs (SEN), admissions and exclusions, disability discrimination claims, judicial review cases, disputes with private schools, and transport to school issues. Others advise institutions on the full range of school-related law, including pupil-related litigation and child protection issues, debt recovery, governance matters, school reorganisations, employment law, exclusions, policy and procedure reviews, and the establishment of academies.

See also: Public Procurement; Local Government

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Employment

This section covers employment matters relating to day-to-day business issues as well as mergers and takeovers. Its scope includes employment litigation related to sex, race and age discrimination, workforce redundancies and employment issues arising from mergers. TUPE, whistle blowing cases and equal pay litigation feature heavily. 

See also: Pensions

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Energy & Natural Resources

This section focuses on commercial and regulatory issues arising from the energy sector. On the oil and gas side all upstream and downstream work is covered including exploration, infrastructure and pipeline developments and service contracts, royalties, licensing and operation agreements. On the renewables and alternative energy front disputes and regulatory issues surrounding wind and wave power generation, solar, biomass and geothermal energy generation are all catered for.

See also: Environment; International Arbitration

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Environment

Environment work includes regulatory compliance, litigation and enforcement actions related to air, water, wetlands, waste and endangered species. We also feature advice to corporate and financial clients on the environmental aspects of M&A, financings, securities offerings and other transactions, which involve due diligence and environmental insurance issues. 

See also: Planning; Real Estate.

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Family / Matrimonial

This section deals with issues surrounding the inception and breakdown of personal relationships. This includes the creation of pre-nuptial / civil partnership / co-habitation agreements relating to financial and property assets, the resolution of divorces or separations involving financial and property disputes, and the handling of matters relating to children in the context of divorce or separation. There are two tables in the London chapter of this section: Family: Children and Family: Matrimonial Finance.

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Financial Services

This section covers contentious and non-contentious regulatory matters related to the financial services industry. On the contentious side, it encompasses Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) investigations, selling practices, market misconduct, misuse of confidential information and complaints handling regarding retail products. Non-contentious regulatory matters may include the implications of and interactions between UK, EU and US regulations and compliance advice. Researchers will consider work on behalf of asset managers, banks, insurers, funds and alternative capital providers or any organisation governed by the FCA and / or PRA (Prudential Regulatory Authority).

See also: Banking Litigation

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Fraud: Civil

This section ranks barristers and sets advising on litigation, investigations, freezing orders and asset tracing arising in the context of civil fraud.

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Fraud: Criminal

This section focuses on financial crime and covers a broad range of offences, including investment fraud, market abuse, public sector fraud and money laundering. Bribery and criminal cartel offences are also considered.

See also: Crime; POCA

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Health & Safety

This section incorporates both contentious and non contentious health & safety issues. On the contentious side it includes defence and prosecution of companies and senior executives facing investigations or actions initiated by the Health and Safety Executive and other regulatory bodies including criminal breaches of the law such as corporate manslaughter. Public inquest work is also included. On the non-contentious side the section covers regulatory compliance advice, risk management and training. The health & safety issues which fall under the remit of this section are very broad from general health and safety at work to food safety, fire safety and issues affecting the waste, utilities, nuclear, rail and other industries.

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Immigration

This section ranks barristers and sets who provide advice on all aspects of inbound and outbound immigration, such as work permits and visas, workforce mobility and other legislative and regulatory changes.

See also: Administrative & Public Law; Civil Liberties

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Information Technology

This is an industry-specific section focusing on sets and individuals advising technology-based businesses. Work in this sector may include early-stage investment, M&A, share listings, outsourcing, patent work, infrastructure projects and product launches, as well as contentious scenarios.

See also: Telecommunications; Data Protection; Public Procurement.

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Insurance

This section covers both insurance and reinsurance matters. On the contentious side, we feature coverage claims litigation, broker's negligence, and both 'facultative' and 'treaty' reinsurance disputes.

See also: Personal Injury; Clinical Negligence; Professional Negligence; Shipping; Product Liability

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Intellectual Property

This section covers disputes related to patent, copyright and trademark infringement, litigation concerning trade secrets and related issues such as licensing and IP commercialisation.

See also: Information Technology; Media & Entertainment

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International Arbitration

This section features advice on the resolution of disputes by one or more neutral parties, either an arbitrator or an arbitration panel. Many contracts require mandatory arbitration in the event of a dispute. Examples of the institutions include AAA (American Arbitration Association), ICC (International Chamber of Commerce), ICSID (International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes) and LCIA (London Court of International Arbitration).

See also: Commercial litigation; Public International Law

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Licensing

This section deals with the award of and challenges to liquor and gambling licences.

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Local Government

This section focuses on the whole spectrum of  local government activities, including planning, environmental, education, community care, highways, housing, health, compulsory purchase, public procurement, freedom of information, rating, licensing and elections. Issues relating to local government powers, structure and finance are of particular interest.

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Media & Entertainment

The section caters to clients in the media industry in respect of contentious and non-contentious matters. We rank sets both by their overall strength across different media industries as well as by specialist expertise in Film & Television, Advertising & Marketing, Music, Theatre, Publishing and Gaming, Social Media & Interactive Content. Types of disputes in this area are many, and may include copyright and contractual litigation (eg on behalf of studios, producers, publishing houses or talent); IP and trade mark disputes; matters arising from film finance; and allegations of wrongdoing.

See also: Defamation / Reputation Management

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Mediators

This section ranks the UK's leading mediators. All are successful resolvers of disputes. Organisation rankings are not given, as parties in dispute tend to agree on instructing individual mediators suited to their personalities and to the nature of their case, rather than a provider or mediation set.

See also: Litigation

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Offshore

This section covers UK barristers who work in non-UK common law jurisdictions. These specifically include, amongst others, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar.

See also: Chancery; Commercial Litigation

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Partnership

This section deals with contentious and non-contentious partnership matters, primarily concerning professional clients such as architects, surveyors, accountants, lawyers, doctors and investment funds. This area includes work on corporate restructurings in which firms and companies convert to more sophisticated partnership structures, particularly LLPs. Sets that specialise in partnership law also counsel clients in establishing offices overseas, mergers and acquisitions, partner and team moves, discrimination, and regulatory matters. Non-contentious work includes drafting of partnership agreements and crafting innovative partnership vehicles for corporate clients.

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Pensions

This section ranks sets and barristers who advise employers, schemes, fund managers, trustees and the state on both contentious and non-contentious issues concerning pensions. Matters handled include rectification claims, recoveries in the event of insolvency, determinations of liabilities, judicial review and allegations of wrongdoing.

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Personal Injury

This section covers the full scope of litigation arising from injuries sustained outside of a clinical context. This includes litigation arising from workplace accidents, motor accidents, abuse claims and industrial disease. Purely travel-related injuries are covered in a separate section entitled Travel: International Personal Injury, within the Travel section of the guide.

See also: Clinical Negligence; Insurance; Court of Protection; Travel

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Planning

This section covers the area of law relating to the processes of planning applications for the development, construction or change of use of a building or buildings; compulsory purchase orders (CPO); and s106 agreements. The work in this section can be contentious – for example, judicial reviews, inquiries and appeals; and non-contentious – for example, planning and CPO strategies relating to development projects and urban regeneration schemes.

See also: Environment; Real Estate; Local Government

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POCA Work & Asset Forfeiture

This section covers all aspects of the proceeds of crime, from restraint and receivership to confiscation. The section concerns recovery in both the criminal and civil courts.

See also: Crime; Fraud: Criminal

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Police Law

This section is split into Mainly Claimant and Mainly Defendant sections. Mainly Claimant covers actions and judicial review proceedings against the police, the IPCC and coroners, including issues relating to unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, treatment in custody and inquests. Mainly Defendant focuses on barristers and sets who defend police forces against matters of the type listed above.

See also: Civil Liberties; Administrative & Public Law

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Product Liability

This section encompasses legal claims that allow an injured party to recover financial compensation from the manufacturer or seller of a product. Examples include faulty brakes, contaminated food and medicine lacking appropriate label warnings. Sets advise manufacturers, distributors, suppliers retailers and others who make the product available to the public.

See also: Insurance

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Professional Discipline

This section ranks sets and barristers who advise individuals, corporations or professional bodies in relation to professional regulatory matters, including fitness-to-practice investigations, disciplinary proceedings and the development of codes of practice.

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Professional Negligence

This section covers barristers who specialise in disputes arising over loss suffered as a result of negligent advice given by professionals. A wide range of professionals are covered, including architects, surveyors, financial professionals, insurance brokers and solicitors or barristers.

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Property Damage

This section covers the full range of disputes relating to major property damage, including damage relating to fires and explosions, floods, and subsidence.

See also: Insurance

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Public International Law

This section covers state-to-state disputes such as those governed by the law of nations and the law of the sea, as well as by international agreements and conventions. It includes matters traditionally held to constitute the core of public international law practices, such as land and maritime boundary disputes, sovereign immunity, state succession and claims to statehood, as well as advice to states, companies and individuals concerning sanctions, as well as bilateral investment treaty arbitrations.

See also: Litigation; International Arbitration

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Public Procurement

This section ranks sets and individuals who advise corporations and government bodies on the acquisition of goods or services by governmental entities. Areas covered may include education, healthcare, social housing, transport and infrastructure.

See also: Education; Information Technology

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Real Estate Litigation

This section ranks barristers across the UK advising on contentious property issues for both landowners and tenants, including ownership disputes, vacant possession strategies, commercial management conflicts, easement issues, party wall and landlord and tenant matters.

See also: Commercial Litigation

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Restructuring / Insolvency

This section covers work on behalf of creditors (including banks, financial investors and steering committees), insolvency practitioners, corporate debtors and their officers/directors.  Work examples may include debt restructuring, distressed M&A activity, formal insolvency procedures, contingency planning, debtor advisory work, distressed creditor and equity investment and trading. 

See also: Banking

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Shipping

This section covers both contentious and non contentious work. The contentious side involves breaches of charter-party disputes, cargo and bills of lading claims, the arrest of vessels and cargoes, marine insurance claims, collision, salvage and environmental liabilities. On the non-contentious side, sets advise on contractual arrangements for construction, financing and registration of vessels, customs and licensing, and documentation relating to charter-parties and bills of lading.

See also: Insurance

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Social Housing

These barristers act for either the providers or consumers of social housing. This can comprise corporate work - governance, joint ventures etc - housing stock transfers, antisocial behaviour matters, construction or redevelopment financing, property issues, or defending social housing tenants against legal proceedings brought by the providers.

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Sport

The sports industry makes use of a wide array of legal services, and Chambers is keen to highlight the barristers who have a demonstrable commitment to the sector, and understand the unique pressures and constraints which sports entities operate under. The definition of 'sports law' is oft disputed; Chambers sees commercial and regulatory work as its cornerstone, but seeks to highlight those sets best able to serve the sports industry as a whole, something which requires consideration of work across a wide range of legal disciplines.

See also: Media & Entertainment; Intellectual Property

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Tax

Tax covers a broad range of matters on both the contentious and non-contentious side. Non-contentious matters include M&A transactions and equity raising issues both at home and abroad, as well as tax advisory work on behalf of corporate clients. Financing and investment management are other key non-contentious tax issues. On the contentious side, disputes with HMRC in the form of litigation, appeals and tribunals form the basis of the British legal market for tax issues. Indirect tax matters, including such duties as VAT and stamp duty, are also covered here, and there is a further separate section on private client tax barristers.

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Telecommunications

This section relates to matters concerning telecommunications companies and their activities, and involves work spanning transactional, regulatory and intellectual property matters concerning telecommunications companies. Clients may include telephone service providers, ISPs, wireless operators, TV and / or radio broadcasters and a range of government and regulatory bodies. Examples of work include spectrum auctions, procurement agreements and M&A, as well as contractual disputes, investigations and compliance proceedings.

See also: Competition; Intellectual Property; Information Technology

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Travel

This section is an industry table encompassing legal advice relating to a broad array of market pressures including regulatory compliance on consumer safety, commercial matters arising out of industry developments, foreign personal injury litigation, and environmental concerns.

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