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Protracted talks between two Manchester chambers have brought the sets to the verge of merging.
It is understood that 21 tenant Manchester House Chambers and 26-tenant Queens Chambers, both general common law sets, have been in discussion for months.
Head of chambers at Manchester House John Wishart says: "I'm a merger man because I believe that security for specialist groups, especially for criminal barristers, lies in that direction."
A merger is attractive for the sets because it will significantly reduce their overheads, particularly in relation to IT and premises for both parties. "Business opportunities must be linked with manageable overheads," says Wishart.
But Terence Mylchreest, senior clerk at Queens Chambers, says: "It's not correct to say the sets are about to merge."
The North West Bar has been recently gripped by a string of mergers, with Liverpool sets Peel House and Oriel Chambers, and Martin's Buildings and The Corn Exchange linking up.