Top aviation chambers disintegrates

Premier aviation and commercial set 5 Bell Yard is to dissolve, following a nightmare six months during which 12 barristers, including two leading silks, have quit.

Last week it emerged that banking and aviation specialists Michael Sullivan and Hannah Brown are leaving for 1 Essex Court, Robert Lawson and John Kimbell are joining 4 Essex Court, Andrew Hillier is joining 11 King's Bench Walk, Philip Shepherd 24 Old Buildings and Kate Vaughan-Neil 4 Pump Court.

Over the summer, head of chambers Robert Webb QC announced he would be leaving to head up British Airways' legal and regulatory activities, Giles Kavanagh quit to join Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, Andrew Lydiard joined Brick Court Chambers and Phillip Reed went to Norton Rose's commercial litigation team. In February Michael Crane QC and Akhil Shah quit to go to Fountain Court.

The 16 remaining barristers have yet to announce where they will go.

In a statement senior clerk Kevin Moore said: “It is sadly the case that this old and distinguished set will have to dissolve.”

It is understood that the departure of Crane was the catalyst that sparked the stream of departures.

Leading aviation silk Anthony Boswood QC, at Fountain Court, said: “This is an unpleasant sign of the times. If you are a smallish set and you lose your stars it may be very hard to carry on.”