News that a group of senior tenants from Hollis Whiteman Chambers were moving out to set up alone broke in February this year. It took the five Hollis Whiteman tenants, plus co-conspirators Edmund Lawson QC of 9-12 Bell Yard and 23 Essex Street's Nicholas Purnell QC, another three months to find a new home in which to establish themselves. And they have picked an unusual location.
Cloth Fair Chambers will launch later this year in a refurbished 17th-century building near Smithfield Market. The building survived the Great Fire of London so it is certainly solid, and the new set's foundations look equally promising.
Purnell will head Cloth Fair, which boasts five silks and two senior juniors (Hollis Whiteman's Richard Horwell and Ian Winter). The seven also raided Hollis Whiteman for its clerk Nick Newman and, in a major coup, have picked up retiring senior clerk Michael Greenaway as a consultant.
Purnell told The Lawyer that while Cloth Fair may not be in the usual barristers' stomping ground of the Inns of Court, it is within walking distance of the Old Bailey. As fraud and criminal specialists, this is where Cloth Fair's members will be appearing most regularly. The set will use juniors from other criminal sets, but is still going to focus on high-value work. The rest of the bar will be monitoring progress closely.