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Monckton Chambers has taken a group of five barristers, including silk Ian Wise QC, from Doughty Street Chambers in a bid to build a top-flight public law and human rights offering.
It will come as a blow to Doughty Street, which lost three media juniors to rival set Matrix at the end of last year.
As well as Wise, Monckton will be joined by two mid-tier juniors, Azeem Suterwalla who was called in 2004, and Stephen Broach, who was called in 2008. The set is also taking a pair of ‘baby’ juniors Nikolaus Grubeck and Conor McCarthy.
Public law and human rights silk Wise has acted for a range of clients including the Children’s Society, the National Autistic Society and Age UK. He has also taken more than 30 cases to the European Court of Human Rights.
European law is core practice area at Monckton and the addition of a public law team is aimed at broadening the expertise of the group.
In a statement head of Monckton Chambers Paul Lasok QC said: “They are a group of highly regarded and experienced practitioners who greatly strengthen the range and depth of the public law expertise that Monckton Chambers is able to offer its lay and professional clients.
Wise added: “We’re fortunate to be joining an established group of outstanding barristers in a secure and stable set which clearly has an excellent future. We’re not moving to Monckton to abandon our existing clients, quite the contrary, I expect to see more and better publicly funded work at Monckton alongside private work for the team. This is an exciting time for us and we greatly look forward to working with colleagues at Monckton to make this move a success.”
Sources said chambers was aiming to compete with Blackstone Chambers for public law and human rights instructions. Blackstone dominates the field with members such as Michael Beloff QC, David Pannick QC, Dinah Rose QC and the Treasury Devil, James Eadie QC.
Doughty Street, sources at the bar said, had come under pressure from a swathe of Government cuts which has affected the earning capacity of its members. The set has seen a number of departures for Matrix, including Anthony Hudson, Guy Vassell-Adams and Ben Silverstone, who left in November (7 November 2013). That followed the exit of human rights silk Richard Hermer QC, who joined Matrix in March 2012 (14 March 2012).
That said, chambers is still home to 124 members, including 32 silks.
Doughty Street chief executive Robin Jackson said more than a third of members are public law practitioners and insisted that the exit of the team would not adversely affect chambers.
He added: "The legal aid reductions and changes in scope are unwelcome and, as has been very publicly stated, seriously threaten the availability of legal representation and access to justice for many people in Britain, but to imply that Doughty Street Chambers is under financial pressure is simply misleading.
“We have, indeed, increased our publicly-funded income over the past year, both in terms of receipts and work done (because our expertise is rightly acknowledged by current and prospective clients), and, overall, in both privately and publicly funded work, we have had our most successful year ever financially, as has been the case for each of the last four years.”