The Welsh bar’s success in last week’s silks list is being linked to a rise in its general commercial and public law work.
Cardiff set 9 Park Place ranked equal first in the number of new silks, with three appointments. One of its new silks, chancery and environment expert Milwyn Jarman, was appointed junior counsel for the Welsh National Assembly last year. Chancery expert Geraint Jones was also appointed, along with criminal practitioner Gregg Taylor.
Paul Hopkins, head of commercial dispute resolution at Cardiff-based law firm Edwards Geldard, says: “The Cardiff bar has a higher profile as a result of the Mercantile Court and the new Wales Commercial Law Association. They have provided greater contact with commercial lawyers.
“Commercial work previously done in London, Bristol or other courts in Cardiff is being handled by the new court.”
A senior commercial partner at the firm says the city featured highly in the new silks list because of its growing importance as a legal centre, allied with the Mercantile Court’s success and the start of the Welsh National Assembly.
He says: “The assembly is having a significant effect. Instances of judicial reviews are few and far between, but judges are particularly keen that judicial reviews should happen in South Wales. As the assembly grows there is more scope for work.”
However, most of Cardiff’s specialist law work, including intellectual property, IT, company and defamation, is still being sent to the London bar. Hopkins says: “I cannot imagine us instructing the local bar for this type of work. We get better value for money out of London, as they are prepared to match the prices of Cardiff and make no travel charges.
“I would like to see greater depth of commercial expertise in Cardiff which may come in time.”
But a large amount of criminal work is still being referred to the Welsh bar. Along with Taylor, criminal barristers Huw Davies and Paul Lewis of fellow Cardiff set 30 Park Place all received silk this year.