CHAMBERS OF THE YEAR

Chambers

 

WINNER: 3 Verulam Buildings

For banking and finance litigation there is one set that dominates the bar and has seen demand shoot up as the banking sector looks to smooth out the monumental issues that resulted in the 2008 financial dive. Gray's Inn set 3 Verulam Buildings has attracted top-notch instructions because it is home to some of most knowledgeable and financially astute barristers around.

For instance Rory Phillips QC, David Quest QC, Anne Jeavons, Kate Holderness and Ian Higgins were all involved in the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, which looked into the professional standards of the banking community. Ewan McQuater QC, a banking heavyweight rated for his commercial approach, is instructed for Barclays in defence of a claim relating to the misuse of confidential information. Adrian Beltrami QC, meanwhile, is leading the defence for RBS in a hedge fund dispute being brought against it by Torre Asset Funding. Beltrami is a star in the making and one many consider will lead the pack in years to come.

The set has also picked up cases involving high-profile individuals. Paul Lowenstein QC acted for the UK’s richest man Lakshimi Mittal in a multi-million pound dispute with rice importer Manmohan Varma which settled. The razor sharp Ali Malek QC and tenacious Sonya Tolaney QC were also involved with the High Court battles of Berezovsky v Abramovich , and Berezovksy v Hine, acting for the defendants in both cases. Chambers has seen turnover rise by 29 per cent year-on-year in the past 12 months, and with the banking mis-selling scandals expected to escalate further, it is on the path to success.

2ND: Essex Court Chambers

Essex Court Chambers is home to one of the most experienced clerks at the bar, with David Grief spending more than 40 years with chambers. He is the central pillar of strength which keeps this set glued together and moving in the right direction. He is joined in the clerking room by deputy senior clerk Joe Ferrigno, who is known for his responsive attitude and 24/7 accessibility.

Essex Court was one of the first sets to move into Singapore in 2009. It made headlines last year after Toby Landau QC and David Joseph QC went head-to-head at the Singaporean High Court in a $300m battle for Malaysian tycoon Ananda Krishnan and the Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group. It was the first time British counsel had appeared in the Singaporean High Court for eight years.

The set was also instrumental in securing compensation for 21 former Commerzbank bankers, who were refused their bonuses by the bank. Andrew Hochhauser QC and David Craig were successful in reversing the bank's decision through the court.

Meanwhile, it is shaping up to be a stellar 2013/14 with Joe Smouha QC, a leader at the bar, involved in the mammoth Tchenquiz v Serious Fraud Office case, instructed by Shearman & Sterling partner Jo Rickard for Robert Tchenguiz.

3RD: Monckton Chambers

The past year has seen Monckton Chambers come into its own, pushing up turnover to record levels. In the past three years the set has undergone a dramatic internal evolution. Driven in part by a strategic ambition to gain market leadership credentials and in part by its success back in 2011 in gaining three new silks (Daniel Beard QC, Paul Harris QC and Tim Ward QC) Monckton saw turnover rise 22 per cent last year to £21m at the 2011/12 year end. Growth has been driven by instructions at home and abroad, with senior clerk David Hockney always on the look-out for new revenue growth areas. As well as being instructed by HM Revenue & Customs, the set has picked up instructions for British Sky Broadcasting, with Meredith Pickford acting as a junior in its successful challenge to Ofcom over charges for Sky Sports channels and for Nokia in a case involving an alleged LCD cartel. Growth at Monckton has been carefully thought out and executed by staff, clerks and members alike.

Finalists

  • Devereux Chambers
  • Fountain Court Chambers
  • Littleton Chambers
  • Matrix Chambers
  • Old Square Chambers
  • Thirty Nine Essex Street