Although some practitioners choose to turn to London for counsel, many leading firms regularly make use of regional expertise
The situation of property litigation at the regional bar does not sound too healthy, with firm after firm saying they always use London barristers. Many reasons were given for this. Some practitioners felt that they would use counsel only in complex cases and when they wanted someone with clout.
Others felt they “wanted to give the client as little chance to criticise their choice of counsel as possible and so felt it was safer to use London silks”. Some felt there was simply not enough expertise in their region. One commented that counsel at the Birmingham bar were not a great deal cheaper than in London. Some practices were happy to use regional barristers for boundary disputes or possession cases but would automatically send a rent review case to London.
Yet despite the gloomy comments, some highly regarded barristers are regularly used by leading firms in the regions.
In Birmingham David Stockill, a senior junior at 5 Fountain Court, headed by Anthony Barker QC, is “very good”. John Randall QC of 7 Fountain Court, headed by Rex Tedd QC, is “good on property generally, although he does other chancery work as well”.
In Manchester, Lesley Anderson at 40 King Street, the chambers of John Hoggett QC, is “very competent”. From the same set, Mark Halliwell is “extremely good on the chancery side”, Peter Smith QC is recommended as “a real fighter, good on his law” and Paul Tucker is recommended for planning. Mark Harper “has potential”, and Katherine Dunn and Wilson Horne are also well-regarded.
At 8 King Street, the chambers of Keith Armitage QC, Jeffrey Terry is recommended. Neil Berragan of 9 St John Street chambers is “very thorough in his preparation” and Edward Morgan at Deans Court chambers in Manchester is also noted.
In Leeds, Julian Goose, John Behrens and Sarah Clarke at 10 Park Square, headed by A N Campbell QC, are well regarded, the last two for boundary disputes and possession proceedings in particular.
Chris Dodd of 9 Woodhouse Square is described as a “good general counsel rather than a specialist, but property litigation is an area where he has a natural ability and is good on his feet”.
One Leeds practitioner says all the above-mentioned Leeds barristers do a very good job in a market where it is difficult to develop to the same level of expertise as London barristers.
Leeds practitioners also recommended Benjamin Levy's Enterprise chambers, which operates an annexe in the city.
Stephen Pritchett from 20 North John Street chambers, headed by Nicholas Orr, is flying the flag for Liverpool and is well regarded in the field.
In Bristol, one leading lawyer says there is a dearth of good property litigation barristers. But Leslie Blohm from St John's chambers, headed by Roderick Denyer QC, is “very well rated”, “analytical and precise” and “reliable”. Charles Auld from the same set is also recommended as “very good” and Neil Levy is “being used more and more”.
Nicholas Briggs at All Saints chambers is “always helpful” and Peter Barrie, Malcolm Warner and Brian Watson, all at Guildhall chambers, headed by John Royce QC, are also commended.
In Newcastle, John Milford QC's Trinity chambers comes out top, with Stephanie Jarron, Ian Atherton and Stuart Pryke all recommended.
In East Anglia, David Pugh and Andrew Marsden of East Anglian chambers are highly regarded.
And Philip Nicol-Gent from King's chambers in Eastbourne is recommended as helpful.
Jonathan Holmes, a member of Plowden buildings who is resident on the north east circuit, is also recommended.
Finally, in Cardiff, 33 Park place has a good reputation. Graham Walters is said to be “good for planning and boundary disputes”, Robert O'Leary is “competent and thorough” and the mid-junior David Hardy, who trained at Falcon chambers, is also recommended. Milwyn Jarman of 9 Park Place is said to be “very good”.