Swelling chambers rush for premises

THANET House, the former premises of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, has become the latest target for barristers chambers which face a growing accommodation crisis.

One Essex Court and Fountain Court have both looked at Thanet House, which has a price tag of around £10m.

Middle Temple seems the most likely buyer, as One Essex Court has rejected the possibility of taking on the lease directly from the developers.

Many sets are struggling to house a rapidly expanding number of tenants, forcing them to look outside their historical homes in the Inns.

Leading chambers, 2 Crown Office Row and Serle Court, have secured new accommodation and will be relocating this September. Two Crown Office Row, the chambers of John Powell QC, are off to 4-5 New Square, in what will be the biggest refurbishment Lincoln's Inn have ever undertaken.

Nicholas Luckman, senior clerk at 24 Old Buildings, says his set is always on the lookout for new premises, and is currently pursuing Lincoln's Inn for additional space.

Christine Kings, practice manager at Doughty Street Chambers, confirms that it too is in negotiations. “We are going to expand our accommodation in Doughty Street,” she says.

Stephen Graham, of 4 Breams Buildings, warns those looking to move. His set was one of the first to relocate in 1991. “In spite of loss of three members to Wilberforce, we still have an accommodation problem,” he says.