BEFORE moving to Holborn Chambers a year ago, 3 Kings Bench Walk was experiencing the normal remuneration and payment delays expected in a criminal/common law set predominantly reliant on legally aided work.
In addition, the Inn's rents were being raised to market levels, and remained there while market levels dropped.
Increasing uncertainties at the Bar meant a greater turnover of tenants.
As a result we decided we needed new premises where we could establish a cosmopolitan set, which was based solely on ability, integrity and the desire to succeed.
We engaged a property consultant, which was the best investment we ever made.
Our list was simple: we required comfortable accommodation for about 30 barristers, excellent modern facilities, within walking distance of the High Court and at a lower annual cost than the current Temple rent.
The consultant advised purchasing a freehold and quickly found a seven-storey building, with a lift, at the northern end of Lincoln's Inn Fields, convenient for the High Court and Bow Street as well as Southwark, Knightsbridge and the Old Bailey.
He did the hard work and saved multiples of his fee in negotiating the price.
The building needed complete refurbishment. Some financial institutions will not lend to a group of barristers, only to an individual. I was offered 80 per cent, not just of the purchase price but also the modernisation works, on a 20-year fixed interest rate. After sound financial advice, I accepted the offer. The annual fixed interest payments for our seven-storey modernised building is 20 per cent less than the rent for two floors in the Temple, and in real terms diminishes in value every year.
Capital repayments are my responsibility and the building is my pension plan.
Members' rents will be capped below the old Temple rent and as membership of chambers increases rents will diminish.
At present rents are set at a flat rate and a percentage of 15 per cent, which is the guaranteed maximum and which also includes clerks' fees. This will be reduced to 14 per cent for the 1996/97 financial year and the final objective is that all members take home between 85 per cent and 88 per cent of their income.
A comfortable working environment with modern facilities and minimal overheads makes for far greater stability. Work has increased significantly, not least because of the location and the facilities.
The chambers is looking forward to the future – and no – we do not miss the Temple, although we will still continue to visit it.