One Garden Court to open in Exeter

Leading family law chambers One Garden Court is to open an office in the South West after demand from local solicitors.

The set, headed by Eleanor Platt QC and Alison Ball QC, has recruited two new tenants who will be based permanently in Exeter, and hopes to bring a junior tenant on board soon.

Kay Firth-Butterfield is joining the office from 1 Gray's Inn Square in London, the chambers of The Baroness Scotland of Asthal QC.

Gillian Downham is also joining, from Exeter-based Rougemont Chambers.

Nicholas Martin, chief executive at One Garden Court, says: “We were noticing increased enquiries and interest from local solicitors, and it seemed to us that there was a real opportunity for a specialist family set down there.

“Solicitors seemed to feel that the local bar was not able to offer the depth of service there that we can.”

The annex will be supported by a core group of eight members based in London, including Alison Ball QC.

According to Martin, the chambers will build up the annex after seeing how it develops in the first year.

He says: “We may get people who apply from other chambers in the area, or it may be that members from London will want to go down there if it looks like its going well.”

The set is also changing its organisational structure – giving formal constitutional status to its six practice teams and creating a practice development group to focus on marketing, service standards and recruitment.

The six practices are child abduction, human rights, local authorities, care and adoption, ancillary relief and private/international child law.

One Garden Court was established as the first dedicated family law set in 1989, and now has 40 full tenants including four QCs.