Michael Mansfield QC’s criminal chambers is set to relocate to new premises in Clerkenwell due to concerns over high property rates around Holborn, for centuries the heartland of all London barristers.
The move reflects growing concern at the bar over the increasing cost of rent, particularly in the Inns of Court, which act as landlords to thousands of barristers and where tenants allege rates are well above average commercial levels.
Rates at the Inns can reach as high as £54 per sq ft, while outside Holborn they are as little as £30.
Several sets have recently moved to new premises outside the Inns. Outer Temple Chambers, formerly known as 35 Essex Street, recently relocated from the Inns to a building opposite the Royal Courts of Justice.
Michael Mansfield QC, head of 14 Tooks Court, believes his set can provide as good a service in Clerkenwell, despite being away from courts and clients, as it has done in Holborn. He says the new rates will also be a fraction of what they were at Tooks Court.
He said: “Technology advancements enable us to practise from home. Also, as our chambers doesn’t have an obvious image to promote, we don’t need an obvious shopfront so everyone can see us.”
The set has instructed Jack Czyzowski, a partner at law firm Orchard, to act on the move.
In 2002, thirty sets in Lincoln’s Inn entered a dispute with their landlords after they had sought to increase rents by 80 per cent. The chambers negotiated it down to a 50 per cent hike.