Manchester's Byrom set and 22 Old Buildings to combine

Chris Fogarty reports

Troubled set 22 Old Buildings is to merge with Manchester's Byrom Chambers.

The new chambers will be headed by Benet Hytner QC, the current head of Byrom Chambers, while 22 Old Buildings head, John Samuels QC, will move into sole practice.

Byrom Chambers, a common law set with 12 silks at its Manchester chambers, will close its Fleet Street London office and move the 13 juniors based there into the Old Buildings offices in Lincoln's Inn.

The current Old Buildings senior clerk, Alan Brewer, will retain his position, but the the remaining staff at both sets will have to reapply for their posts.

22 Old Buildings, also a common law set, was rocked last November when nine of its specialist family barristers, led by Ian Peddie QC, left for One Garden Court in bizarre circumstances, moving out en masse during the weekend.

Roger McCarthy, QC who joined the public and administrative law team at Cloisters Chambers, was among other barristers who left Old Buildings shortly after.

That left the 31-strong set with just over 20 juniors and one QC, although the Brewer said work continued to flow in. "Despite people leaving, we were a very viable and successful set and Byrom are too," he claimed.

Brewer revealed that the new chambers, which will offic- ially merge on 5 April, will retain its respective London and Manchester names and will look to recruit senior barristers, particularly in the field of family law.

Hytner, who is a crown court recorder and former head of the Northern Circuit, said he regarded the merger as a "perfect marriage".

He added: "Byrom Chambers has been without a senior clerk in London for a few months and has been seeking larger premises for expansion. 22 Old Buildings has a respected and experienced senior clerk and spare capacity."