Creme de la counsel

Daniel Holden seeks instructing solicitors' views on who are the pick of the silks. Daniel Holden is a freelance journalist.

Professional negligence work is broadening and barristers are reaping the rewards.

Growth in the insurance market, in particular, is creating more work, according to the more than 40 leading professional negligence firms canvassed for their opinion on leading London silks.

Big hitters are Anthony Grabiner QC, head of chambers at 1 Essex Court and Gordon Pollock QC, head of chambers at Essex Court Chambers, with both widely known as “more aggressive advocates”.

In London, 4 Pump Court, headed by the “incredibly thorough” Bruce Mauleverer QC, stands out with numerous recommendations for the set's “consistent policy of taking on good tenants”.

“Excellent advocacy skills” put David Blunt QC, Christopher Moger QC and Jeremy Storey QC in as top leaders in the set, while the new silk in chambers, Michael Douglas QC, is “able to persuade judges of his point of view”. John Rowland QC stands out as “very impressive”, particularly with his commercial awareness.

The specialist professional negligence unit headed by the “bright and competent” Peter Susman QC at New Court Chambers also wins plaudits.

Another chambers winning praise is 2 Crown Office Row. Head of chambers, John Powell QC, and Rupert Jackson QC are co-authors of the leading textbook in the field. Jackson has an “enviable re- putation”.

Iain Hughes QC and Christopher Gibson QC at this leading set are also held in high regard, while Justin Fenwick QC is praised as a “high flyer”.

At Graeme Hamilton QC's 2 Crown Office Row, Antony Edwards-Stuart QC is said to have “very impressive analytical capabilities” and “clear analysis”.

Philip Vallance QC at 1 Crown Office Row, the chambers of Robert Seabrook QC, is “conscientious” and “popular”.

John Slater QC, head of chambers at 1 Paper Buildings, is “a dogged fighter” and “robust in court”, while Andrew Bartlett QC, impresses with “machine-like thoroughness”.

1 Atkin Building is highly regarded, and particularly strong in construction. John Blackburn QC is “pre-eminent”, “conscientious” and an all-round “complete leader”. Other leaders at the set include the “extremely able” Robert Akenhead QC and Nicholas Dennys QC, who is “good to work with” and “knows his subject backwards”. The recent silk, Andrew White QC is described as “very direct” and “good with clients”.

The “very good, but busy” Keating Chambers is pinpointed as having several of the top leaders, particularly in specialist construction work. John Uff QC, head of chambers, Stephen Furst QC and Philip Boulding QC have excellent reputations.

Brick Court Chambers wins numerous accolades. A raft of silks, comprising George Leggatt QC, the “impressive” Mark Howard QC and Andrew Popplewell QC, give the set a specialisation in the field and are widely acknowledged. The “intelligent and fine advocate” Jonathan Sumption QC is described as “in a league of his own”. Christopher Clarke QC is attributed as a “fine lawyer” and “very good advocate”.

At 12 King's Bench Walk, Ronald Walker QC is “arguably underestimated, very clever, very experienced and very good value”.

At 9, Old Square, headed by the highly-regarded Robert Reid QC, the “bright” David Hodge QC has “very good technical legal knowledge”, while Simon Berry QC is accredited as “standing head and shoulders above everyone else”. Nicholas Patten QC is named “extremely able and bright”.

Thirteen Old Square, the chambers of Charles Sparrow QC, is also rated with Michael Briggs QC described as “immaculately prepared” and “user-friendly”.

Alan Steinfeld QC at 24 Old Buildings is “rigorous”, “user-friendly with solicitors” and “gets superb results”.

Littleton Chambers is rated highly. Solicitors particularly endorsed its head of chambers Michael Burton QC.

Robert Webb QC, head of chambers at 5 Bell Yard is also rated, while solicitors seem happy to follow Michael Crane QC's move from the set to Fountain Court. David Donaldson QC at 2 Hare Court also wins praise.

2 Temple Gardens boasts numerous silks in the field. Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC is a “good all-rounder”, while Patrick Twigg QC is “exceptional”, a “robust advocate” and “thrives on working on large quantities of complex legal material”.