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Nearly two-thirds of the tenants at Donald Gordon’s 22-strong set 3 Temple Gardens have quit to form their own chambers.
It is understood that of the 14 departing barristers, who include senior figures such as John Benedict and Bita Bhalla, two are believed to have left following a dispute over rent, with the rest following in sympathy.
One source at the new set hinted that the bust-up was also the result of disagreements over strategy in the broad-based common law, criminal and commercial set. He said: “We are all ambitious and aspirational and wanted to pursue more high-level commercial work.”
He added: “Our leaving was a natural process of evolution - like cell division.”
The barristers have set up temporary chambers, provisionally called Temple Garden Chambers, in Hamilton House just outside the Temple.
Future plans for the embryonic set are shrouded in secrecy - discussions over a new name and new location are said to be “very sensitive”. But sources said: “We are considering both taking on new members and merger with other sets.”
According to 3 Temple Gardens, the new set is being clerked from the old set but the arrangement will cease at the end of June.
James Edmiston, senior clerk at 3 Temple Gardens, confirmed some tenants had left but said he was expecting “there will be some returning to the set”.
The set is also understood to be interviewing for new tenants.