2 Mitre Court Bldgs set to shut up shop

Once England’s foremost planning set, 2 Mitre Court Buildings is expected to dissolve next month after the announcement that most members, including its chambers head Guy Roots QC, have found new homes.

Roots and Michael Humphries QC have announced their decision to join rival set 2 Harcourt Buildings.

Six other barristers, including Stephen Sauvain QC, a highly-reputed planning barrister, who also has a tenancy with Manchester and London set 40 King Street, will join 2-3 Gray’s Inn Square.

Roots said: “Obviously it’s sad from a personal point of view. My father was head of these chambers. But in this day and age you have to face up to commercial realities and look forward to furthering practices rather than remaining together for sentimental reasons.”

Three years ago, 2 Mitre Court boasted many of the finest names at the planning bar, including silks Michael Fitzgerald QC, David Widdicombe QC, Lord Silsoe QC, Gerald Moriarty QC, Anthony Anderson QC and Neil King QC. Most have retired, with a number leaving for rivals, and the set has never fully recovered.

Also leaving for Robin Purchas QC’s 2 Harcourt Buildings are 2 Mitre Court’s most senior juniors, Robert Fookes and Richard Glover, while junior tenant Elizabeth Liddiard is due to join CMS Cameron McKenna.

In February, Roots undertook a strategy review which resulted in telling tenants that they were free to leave. He told The Lawyer at the time: “The review is really a long-term strategy. People at the bottom want to see the direction of their career path.”

It is the second set in Mitre Court to close in recent years, following Mitre Court Chambers’ dissolution in 2001, when 16 tenants moved to 5 King’s Bench Walk. Practice manager Alistair Adams told The Lawyer at the time that the barristers felt safer in larger sets.

Pressure on certain practice areas, together with a trend towards larger sets, has claimed a number of renowned chambers, including in 1998 that of top aviation set 5 Bell Yard and in 2000 George Carman QC’s New Court Chambers.