Barrister Stephen Smith QC, one of the busiest advocates at the bar, is to join Erskine Chambers along with juniors Tim Akkouh and Emily Gillett.
The trio, who all have a focus on asset recovery law, join the set from New Square Chambers.
The move comes just six months after Erskine expanded its insolvency team through the addition of silks Peter Arden QC from Enterprise Chambers and Raquel Agnello QC from 11 Stone Buildings (3 January 2013). The additions coincided with the return of Michael Todd QC as head of chambers, after he took a break from the set to chair the Bar Council for a year.
Smith is the go-to advocate of choice for Hogan Lovells partner Chris Hardman and has for the last four years been instructed by Hardman to represent Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank in its pursuit of former chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov (19 March 2013).
The case, for which Akkouh was instructed as junior, was groundbreaking in the field of asset recovery and generated 49 reported decisions. Most notable was the High Court decision to debar Ablyazov from defending the claims in November last year (6 November 2012).
Todd said after a period of consolidation at Erskine the set was again looking to grow. The addition of Smith, Akkouh and Giellett was intended to help chambers better service its traditional commercial client base with commercial litigation nous.
He added that while demand for advisory work in chambers was flatlining, demand for litigation expertise from the international markets was growing.
“Where we are soaring is in international markets Hong Kong, Cayman, Bermuda and the BVI,” he said. Smith, Todd added, had appeared in a number of disputes in the BVI in recent years, instructed in shareholder disputes and breach of fiduciary duty claims.
“Our practice areas of civil fraud, asset recovery and civil litigation, arising, as so much of it does, from corporate, joint venture and business disputes, provide an ideal fit with Erskine Chambers’ traditional areas of expertise in company law, insolvency and commercial litigation,” Smith said.
Having been called to the bar in 1983, Smith took silk in 2000. He was appointed a recorder of the Northern Circuit in 2004 and became a deputy High Court judge in 2006.
Akkouh was called to the bar in 2004, while Gillett, who is also considered a rising star at the bar, was called in 2005.