Incoming Bar Council chairman Heather Hallett QC has switched chambers on the eve of taking up the demanding role – but she is refusing to say what sparked the move.
Hallett, one of the most senior members of common law set 6 Pump Court, will join criminal set 23 Essex Street from 1 January.
Pump Court colleagues Christopher Kinch and Simon Russell Flint will also make the move with her.
Hallett, a criminal practitioner, said the decision behind her move was a “personal matter” and would not comment further.
However, she strongly denied rumours at the Bar that the move had been sparked by concern at Pump Court about her effectively taking a year out to become the Bar's first woman chairman.
Hallett said Pump Court had been “entirely supportive” of her Bar Council commitments.
Essex Street head of chambers Michael Lawson QC said he was “delighted” at Hallett's move but said the circumstances surrounding her decision were private.
Lawson added that the set accepted her work on the Bar Council would dominate her time during 1998.
“Of course she needs a chambers base and so these chambers and facilities are available to her,” said Lawson.