With the division between pure banking work and commercial work becoming more blurred, barristers are gaining experience of a mixture of company, commercial, chancery and corporate litigation.
And the boom in cases involving Lloyd's has taken up a great deal of the commercial Bar's resources as well as those of many of the courts. In addition several notable fraud and pensions cases such as Maxwell and BCCI have kept commercial litigators busy.
Leaders highly regarded in this field include Alan Steinfeld QC of 24 Old Buildings and Robert Webb QC of 5 Bell Yard.
Edmund Lawson QC of 9-12 Bell Yard (formerly 4 Paper Buildings) was also singled out because, although he is considered “essentially a criminal-based silk, he is frequently instructed by insurers, and is good on cross-examination”.
What constitutes a litigation partner's favoured or “Rolls Royce set” will differ, as will their choice of silk or junior.
At Brick Court chambers Richard Aikens QC was singled out as a “very good advocate, very intelligent and thorough”.
The choice of counsel also depends on the particular specialisation of the litigation practitioner involved – one partner picked out Erskine Chambers as his favourite set, and for general Queen's Bench and Chancery he rates both Michael de Navarro QC and Benjamin Browne QC as “excellent”.
For insolvency cases, many opt for 3-4 South Square where Michael Crystal QC is described as “brilliant” and Gabriel Moss QC also stands out.
Another noted chancery set is 1 New Square where head of chambers Eben Hamilton QC, and James Munby QC and John McDonnell QC all received favourable mentions.
Richard Southwell QC, joint head at One Hare Court with Sir Patrick Neill QC, is noted for his “commercial approach” and Robert Reid QC of 9 Old Square is “particularly known for general chancery and crossover commercial knowledge and expertise”.
Other leading litigation practitioners had a more pragmatic reason for their recommendations. Conrad Dehn QC of Fountain Court has “a great mind and is not too expensive”, Sir Thomas Stockdale at Erskine Chambers is “approachable and commercially astute” and John Cone at the same set is “technically brilliant. A whiz on financial assistance. Approachable and very thorough. Good for reductions of capital.”
Mark Brealey at Brick Court Chambers gives “good practical advice and is effective and creative”. Another mentioned for chancery/commercial litigation is Timothy Lloyd QC who heads the set at 11 Old Square and is highly regarded for “company work, especially the more technical points”.
In the more specialised area of European law, Kenneth Parker QC of 4 Raymond Buildings is “a heavyweight EC and competition law practitioner. Good on detail and highly persuasive.”
“Gutsy” Nicholas Green at Brick Court is said to be a “solid EC practitioner with good practical advice. Always lively.”
And for intellectual property, Peter Prescott QC at 8 New Square is described as “a fantastic all-rounder”, David Kitchin QC at the same set, although a newer silk, is “a safe pair of hands”.
Antony Watson QC at Three New Square, headed by David Young QC, is said to be “second to none, with a great joie de vivre” for patent work. Alastair Wilson QC at 19 Old Buildings “can do fantastic work, he gets stuck in, and has a good manner”.
For jurisdictional and contract aspects, senior junior Charles Hollander at Brick Court Chambers “has produced some of the best pleadings, and is a very quick thinker”.
And in another specialised area, Belinda Bucknall QC of 4 Essex Court is noted for shipping matters.
An up and coming junior in this area is Geraldine Clark at 20 Essex Street chambers who is also singled out for an honourable mention in shipping and marine.