Carving out their own niche

Some barristers have carved out a particular niche for themselves in a particular discipline in the area of professional negligence.

In the Lloyd's litigation, for example, when an instructing firm is looking for “more intellectually rigorous counsel” rather than counsel for a 'knockabout' insurance broker's case”, Bernard Eder QC at Gordon Pollock QC's set at Essex Court Chambers has become acknowledged as an expert in the field, even though he is not considered a professional negligence specialist. Juniors in the same set who have followed in his footsteps are Simon Bryan, Joe Smouha and David Foxton.

Also noted for his expertise in the Lloyd's litigation is Christopher Butcher at 7 King's Bench Walk.

Other law firms involved in Lloyd's litigation have also tended to instruct barristers from what is considered the 'commercial Bar' – Jonathan Sumption QC, Mark Hapgood QC, Sydney Kentridge QC at Brick Court Chambers, with William Wood highlighted as an up-and-coming junior, especially in relation to auditors cases.

For claims against accountants Christopher Clarke QC at Brick Court Chambers, and Robert Webb QC at 5 Bell Yard are named as doing well.

Others who are singled out for mention in relation to Lloyd's litigation include Peter Gross QC at 20 Essex Street and Michael Harvey QC at 2 Crown Office Row.

Anthony Grabiner QC at 1 Essex Court was also mentioned. The juniors singled out at the set are John McCaughran and Rhodri Davies.

Philip Sales at Lord Irvine of Lairg's set at 11 King's Bench Walk is also mentioned.

At 3 Gray's Inn Place, Christopher Symons QC, Ewan McQuater, Janet Turner and Richard Salter have been noted for their work in this area. Again in relation to accountants, Ian Geering QC and Stephen Phillips are also mentioned.

A number of law firms which have become involved in professional negligence work through Lloyd's cite Julian Flaux QC at 7 King's Bench Walk, and Gavin Geary and Dominic Kendrick as a few of the first stops.

At the junior level, David Joseph, Steven Berry and Sara Cockerill, all at Essex Court Chambers, are noted. Cockerill in particular is highly recommended as she has been been involved in the Gooda Walker litigation.

One advantage a number of counsel have in this area is a qualification in a particular profession or discipline.

This was cited in the case of Patrick Phillips QC of 2 Temple Gardens, who is a qualified accountant, and Roger Ter Haar of 2 Crown Office Row who is a qualified engineer, giving him specialist knowledge in cases involving architects.

“This is an advantage,” according to one partner, “because what you are looking for is intellect, you don't particularly want a bullying QC or junior.

“The barrister should be able to ask intelligent questions, so they need to know about the subject or profession.”

Another barrister in this category is Dominic Dowley at 1 Hare Court who is a former Lloyd's underwriter and so knows the market very well. He is said to be “extremely bright, very personable and friendly and has a very good business head”.

But this is not necessarily a prerequisite for counsel in this area.

And there are other criteria for instructing a particular barrister. Barbara Dohmann at 2 Hare Court has impressed, and John Ross at 1 Serjeant's Inn is a very senior junior,who is instructed mostly in cases involving the construction-related profession.

He is said to be “constantly in demand, fantastically inexpensive and very good”.

A near neighbour who is also instructed for his knowledge on civil engineering practice is Ian Wright at 3 Serjeant's Inn who is “very good on construction disputes”.

Angus Moon at the same set is “intellectual with common sense”.