Five of the best

The Lawyer reveals the top barristers gaining favour for their work at the public bar and what singles them out as the best.

Michael Beloff QC

4-5 Gray's Inn Square

Called to the Bar: 1967 Appointed QC: 19Professional achievements/associations:

Joint head of Chambers; president of Trinity College, Oxford; master of the bench of Gray's Inn in 1988; deputy High Court judge from 1989; vice-president and emeritus chairman of the Administrative Law Bar Association.

Areas of practice:

Administrative, commercial, employment, media, EC and sports law; counsel in over 350 reported cases; recommended for civil liberties and immigration and nationality law.

Recent reported cases:

Sugar v Venables 1998 EMLR; R v Inland Revenue ex parte Shepheard Neame; R v Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ex parte British Counsel of Turkish Cyprus.

What they say about him:

“Few counsel are better at dealing with strategic and political questions”; “delightful to work with… always kind to solicitors”.

Richard Gordon QC

39 Essex Street

Called to the Bar: 1972

Appointed QC: 19Professional achievements/associations:

“My greatest triumph was getting a one-eyed, one-legged, purple-haired defendant acquitted on an identity defence”; visiting professor at University College, London; editor-in-chief of the Crown Office Digest law reports; to publish Judicial Review and Crown Office Practice; co-authoring The New Human Rights Act in Practice.

Areas of practice:

Administrative and public law is his forte, acting on behalf of the applicant in most cases; acts for local authorities and commercial bodies; has had a good run on environmental cases.

Recent reported cases:

R v Secretary of State for Health ex parte B & C (1998); His Royal Highness Prince Jefri Bolkiah v KPMG (1998); R v Mental Health Act Commission, ex parte Chantelle Smith (1998).

What they say about him:

“He is the best specialist lawyer I have come across who deals with administrative law”; “likes to chance his arm, but doesn't always know when to stop”; “brilliant at times”; “fantastically knowledgeable”.

Presiley Baxendale QC

Blackstone Chambers

Called to the Bar: 1974 Appointed QC: 19Professional associations/achievements:

Treasury Supplementary Panel of Counsel, 1987; junior counsel to Crown (common law), 1991; London Common Law and Commercial Bar Association; Administrative Law Bar Association; governor of London School of Economics; Justice Council member; executive committee and chairman of public and administrative law panel.

Areas of practice:

Wide experience of public and general commercial law, specialising in the overlap between public law, commercial law and human rights. Particular interests include constitutional law, statutory interpretation, local authority finance and education law.

Recent reported cases:

R v Chief Constable of North Wales Police ex p Thorpe [1998] 3 WLR 57; Andreou v Institute of Chartered Accountants [1998] 1 All ER 14; R v SS Environment ex parte Hammersmith & Fulham [1991] 1 AC 521.

What they say about her:

“Wonderful to work with, charming and great fun, as well as being tough – she can take Margaret Thatcher apart in cross-examination without having to compromise herself.”

Rabinder Singh

4-5 Gray's Inn Square

Called to the Bar: 198Professional associations/achievements:

Secretary, Administrative Law Bar Association; member of supplementary panel of junior counsel to the Crown since 1992; additional junior counsel to the Inland Revenue since 1997; visiting fellow at Queen Mary Westfield College, London since 1995; author of The Future of Human Rights in the United Kingdom, 1997.

Areas of practice:

All aspects of public, employment and European Community and human rights law.

Recent reported cases:

Pepper v Hart (use of Hansard); ex parte Bentley (judicial review of Home Secretary's refusal of pardon); ex parte Fayed (judicial review of Home Secretary's refusal of citizenship).

What they say about him:

“Very good reputation”; “an extremely nice guy with whom it is a pleasure to work”.

Michael Fordham

Blackstone Chambers

Called to the Bar: 1990

Professional achievements/associations:

Member of the Administrative Law Bar Association; Bar Sports Law Group; British Association for Sport and the Law; author of The Judicial Review Handbook; editor of the journal Judicial Review.

Areas of Practice:

All aspects of public and administrative law, judicial review, environmental law, commercial law and sports law.

Recent reported cases:

Presently appearing in the House of Lords in the Pinochet case; represented Diane Blood throughout her successful judicial review over use of her late husband's sperm; Mohammed Al Fayed in his attempt to judicially review the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

What they say about him:

“Having written a book on judicial review he has got a great breadth of case law knowledge in what is essentially a case law subject.”