Cream of the crime sets

Criminal barristers have been getting their share of the legal headlines recently for instigating moves in the criminal justice system as well as for working within it.

It is the criminal lawyers who, depending on the case and its outcome, get the glory or the brickbats. So leading criminal practitioners are looking for barristers who “even if they have taken silk, are still on the boil, still ready for a good fight and able to defend their corner”.

These lists are not exhaustive, but based on the subjective recommendations of leading criminal solicitors who practise in both general crime and white collar crime.

As one partner explains: “Apart from having intellectual abilities, they must have perseverance coupled with the experience and know-how to run a trial, as well as getting the judge and jury on their side.”

The select silks for criminal work are, in no particular order: Richard Ferguson QC who heads the set at 1 Crown Office Row, Michael Mansfield QC at 14 Tooks Court, Anthony Scrivener QC at 2-3 Gray's Inn Square, who has “an impressive courtroom style and a good bedside manner”, Anthony Arlidge QC at 5 King's Bench Walk and Stephen Solley QC at Cloisters. Michael Hill QC, head of the set at 36 Essex Street chambers is “rated very highly” and at the same set, Nicholas Purnell QC is “particularly impressive”, as is Ronald Thwaites QC at 10 King's Bench Walk “who is tough, uncompromising and hardworking”, and was recently involved in the Stephen Lawrence case.

Leader of the Northern circuit Richard Henriques QC of Deans Court chambers, Manchester, is a silk who has hit the headlines in the Bulger case and is highly recommended.

One silk who is also frequently mentioned by both general crime and fraud solicitors is Edmund Lawson QC at 9-12 Bell Yard, because of his crossover expertise in both areas. At the same set, Anthony Evans QC, and recent silk Sonia Woodley QC, are also highly regarded.

Another favoured silk is David Evans QC at Queen Elizabeth Buildings (Hollis Whiteman Chambers), who is “extremely able intellectually and charming. He is impressive in his presentation both to the court and the client – a formidable combination. He is particularly well-suited to sub- stantial fraud cases as well as 'up-and-at-'em' crime cases.”

Other silks rating highly in this set are Julian Bevan QC, who receives many recommendations, Timothy Langdale QC, Anthony Glass QC and recent silk Peter Kyte QC, who has also been singled out.

Also, Ann Curnow QC, Roy Amlot QC and Victor Temple QC from QC Michael Worsley's set at 6 King's Bench Walk are all highly regarded and praised, and David Spens QC is singled out as “very able, conscientious, and nice to work with”. So are Stephen Leslie QC, whose application and concern about clients are exceptional – “he is hard-working and incredibly good on detail” – and Peter Feinberg QC at 1 Crown Office Row, Michael Corkery QC, Oliver Sells QC, Graham Parkins QC, Jonathan Caplan QC, Kuldip Singh QC at 5 Paper Buildings, and Richard Lissack QC at 35 Essex Street.

Another head of chambers singled out for mention is Rock Tansey QC at 3 Gray's Inn Square. He is recommended for general crime, as are Christopher Sallon QC, who is “a good all-rounder and 'trial lawyer' as Americans would say”, Peter Thornton QC, and Geoffrey Robertson QC, all at Doughty Street Chambers.

Helena Kennedy QC is also in great demand and Jonathan Caplan QC at 5 Paper Buildings is “good for Court of Appeal and House of Lords cases”.

Other silks who have appeared in headline cases and been noted include a number at 3 Raymond Buildings: set head Clive Nicholls QC “who is “incredibly experienced and is well-known internationally, which is a big plus when it comes to international cases – he seems to know everybody everywhere”, and his fellow QCs Stephen Batten, Alun Jones, “a good fighter”, David Whitehouse, Montague Sherborne and Nicholas Price, as well as more recent silk Clare Montgomery, are all very well thought of.

For white collar crime, Andrew Trollope QC at 1 Middle Temple Lane is “extremely hard-working, and doesn't pull his punches as the case needs”. And at Tooks Court, Adrian Fulford QC is singled out for praise, as are Christopher Wilson-Smith QC at 35 Essex Street, Jeremy Roberts QC at 9 Gough Square, Desmond de Silva QC at 2 Paper Buildings, and Ian Croxford QC at 2-3 Gray's Inn Square, who is “definitely a star for the future”.

Other names to note are, at Furnival Chambers, the head of the set, senior junior, Andrew Mitchell, who is “absolutely first class”, and Oliver Blunt QC at the same set is described as “excellent”. The anonymous votes of another firm's jury also included praise for Anthony Shaw QC at 4 Brick Court chambers, described as “meticulous, imaginative and approachable”, and William Clegg QC, set head at 3 Hare Court. Michael Ashe QC, of 11 Stone Buildings, is also singled out.