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Premier European and competition law set Monckton Chambers has poached Sir Nicholas Lyell QC, the former Attorney-General, from rival Brick Court Chambers.
The bar has reacted with surprise at Lyell's decision to leave the set which, with 56 tenants including 22 silks, is one of the top four commercial chambers in the country.
Lyell says he was keen to move to a set totally devoted to his areas of practice with strong chambers direction and a proactive clerking team.
"I'm a different animal to when I left chambers for government in 1986," he says.
"When I left Brick Court Chambers my practice was predominantly commercial. I still do some but it is now much more public, worldwide competition and European law oriented."
Lyell's departure is a blow to Brick Court Chambers as it is currently ranked alongside Monckton Chambers as the leading EU and competition set, and because barristers rarely leave magic circle sets.
Brick Court Chambers has targeted public, administrative and EU law for growth.
"Chambers are obviously disappointed to losing such a senior and eminent silk," says Brick Court's joint senior clerk Ian Moyler.
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