Quality counts at the Bar

The leading lights of the insolvency Bar are enjoying a brief respite after the hectic activity of the recession, reports Mike Yuille

Barristers specialising in insolvency have rediscovered the pleasures of home life over the past year or so, although the top practitioners in this field have remained busy as the steady flow of corporate recovery activity continues.

Levels of post-recession work at the bar reflect the situation among law firms: quality counts, with the best merely having to turn away less business than they did a few years ago.

The chambers at 3-4 South Square remain pre-eminent for insolvency. All of its tenants handle the insolvency briefs and have impressive track records in many important cases including BCCI and Maxwell.

The head of chambers, Michael Crystal QC, and Gabriel Moss QC continue to be regarded as the very biggest of the bar's big hitters. "We are back to a plateau level of work rather than the hectic level of the recession," comments Moss.

He adds that most barristers have gone back to their former lives, doing school runs and having occasional weekends away. Moss has even found himself taking regular trips to Bermuda, but all in the call of duty – as a leading counsel instructed in the Bermuda Fire & Marine insurance liquidation.

But even the giants of 3-4 South Square have noticed a change in the type of work, with a shift to securitisation, project finance and other big-ticket City work. For example, Moss and Crystal have been involved in mergers and acquisitions and professional negligence work.

Other highly rated chambers for insolvency work are 13 Old Square, Erskine Chambers, and 4 Stone Buildings, which boast a host of top-quality silks.

At 13 Old Square, headed by Michael Lyndon-Stanford QC, David Oliver QC is probably the leading silk followed by Catherine Newman QC and Richard McCombe QC.

Erskine Chambers has the ever-popular Robin Potts QC as well as head of chambers Richard Sykes QC.

Philip Heslop QC and Anthony Bompas QC of 4 Stone Buildings are widely-known big hitters.

Following on closely in expertise are the leading lights of One Essex Court in the shape of Elizabeth Gloster QC and Terence Mowschenson QC.

Another top performer in this field is Anthony Mann QC, head of Enterprise Chambers.

At 1 New Square, chambers head Eben Hamilton QC is recommended, while at 3 Verulam Buildings Richard Salter QC and Gregory Mitchell QC are noted for their work.

Head of chambers at 24 Old Buildings Colin Brodie QC gets a number of favourable mentions as do Lawrence Cohen QC, Roger Kaye QC, Alan Steinfeld QC, Martin Mann QC, all at the same set.

At Thirteen Old Square, headed by Charles Sparrow QC, Patrick Talbot QC and Michael Briggs QC are highly recommended, while at 7 Stone Buildings, headed by Charles Aldous QC, Nigel Davis QC wins praise for his work.