Two more sets are poised to merge in the latest bid to become one of the leading chancery and commercial chambers, the latest in a spate of consolidations at the bar.
The merger between 1 New Square, the chambers of Eben Hamilton QC, and 12 New Square, led by John Mowbray QC, on 1 October will create a 43-tenant set with nine silks.
There are four chancery and commercial chambers now leading the field; the newly-merged set, Wilberforce Chambers, the recently mer-ged 13 Old Square/7 Stone Buildings and Serle Court/ One Hare Court.
The chambers will retain both sets of accommodation and operate on a joint basis. Hamilton and Mowbray will become joint heads of chambers, while the clerks will be based at 12 New Square where they will be led by senior clerks Warren Lee and Clive Petchey.
"The bigger set will be more appropriate for the changing market," says Petchey, whose chambers also includes the highly-rated commercial chancery silk Charles Purle QC.
Petchey says that the new set will be in a strong position to compete because its international practice is wider than most, although Wilberforce Chambers is in a similar position.
The move has surprised few. One leading barrister says: "This is a positive move because it is a merger of two equals. Both chambers were not expanding fast enough despite having quality barristers."
1 New Square tenant Mark Hubbard says: "We can now be proper competition because we offer more of our clients the right level of call. There is no grand strategy but the respective sets complement one another and we have the opportunity to expand quicker."
The four sets are now likely to compete for the lead position in this highly lucrative market.