The charge of the legal Light Brigade

With several well-known names from the financial sector appearing in court and hitting the headlines, this area of litigation is proving lucrative for lawyers on both sides of the profession. Inevitably, there is a certain amount of overlap with the commercial Bar.

This list of barristers is not exhaustive, but it is based on the subjective recommendations of leading banking and financial sector practitioners.

The leading sets in this area include Fountain Court Chambers, Brick Court Chambers, Erskine Chambers, 3 Verulam Buildings, 3-4 South Square, 1 Essex Court, Essex Court Chambers and 20 Essex Street Chambers.

The majority of recommendations came from practitioners who predominantly use seniors and take the junior's role themselves, giving them first-hand information on the leading silks.

Inevitably those mentioned in this category are also frequently members of the “super-expensive league” (or as one practitioner remarked, only partly humorously: “they charge like the light brigade”).

There are the obvious “usual suspects” line-up of commercial/banking and finance heavyweight silks named by the leading practitioners.

At Brick Court Chambers, Jonathan Sumption QC rates numerous mentions, as do Sydney Kentridge QC, Christopher Clarke QC and Richard Aikens QC. Richard Sykes QC at Erskine Chambers is rated by one practitioner as “the highest”, and at Fountain Court Chambers, the names mentioned are Peter Goldsmith QC, and Peter Scott QC.

Other heavyweights in this area are Anthony Grabiner QC at 1 Essex Court Chambers, and Gordon Pollock QC at Essex Court Chambers, as well as Michael Crystal QC at 3-4 South Square.

Also at Fountain Court, Michael Brindle QC “seems to be getting a good reputation” and is “bright and good on his feet”. Both Brindle and Charles Falconer QC are another practitioner's “first two choices”. Another silk singled out in this set is Andrew Smith QC, and new silk David Railton QC continues to impress with a number of favourable mentions. This set was also rated for its good spread of silks generally.

And at 3 Verulam Buildings (formerly 3 Gray's Inn Place), another well-regarded set in this area, is Richard Salter QC, who is described as “outstanding” for banking work and said to be “one of the most thorough and highly intelligent, is ingenious and has a phenomenal grasp of all the angles”.

Also recommended at the same set is William Blair QC (brother of Tony), who “has a full understanding of the law”, and “the very user-friendly chair of the Commercial Bar Association” John Jarvis QC. Nicholas Merriman QC and Nicholas Elliott QC are also singled out for mentions.

At the same set is “switched-on” Ali Malek QC, who, in common with the others in this area, took silk last year, continues to be the recipient of instructions from many of the leading solicitors, despite having been promoted to “the more expensive echelons”.

At Brick Court Chambers, Mark Hapgood QC “is extremely bright and able, good on paper and on his feet”, with new silk Mark Howard QC also rating a number of honourable mentions.

Robin Potts QC at Erskine Chambers is recommended in banking cases, in particular those which reach the appellate levels, and David Richards QC, also at Erskine Chambers, is mentioned.

Richard Southwell QC at One Hare Court “carries clout” as does “the very impressive” Stuart Isaacs QC at 4-5 Gray's Inn Square. At 11 King's Bench Walk, Lord Irvine of Lairg QC is recommended “as a heavyweight for a big advocacy job”.

At 20 Essex Street, Kenneth Rokison QC and Iain Milligan QC have also been put forward. And on more insurance-related cases, Jeremy Cooke QC at 7 King's Bench Walk is well-regarded. For the chancery side, Edward Nugee QC and Jules Sher QC at Wilberforce Chambers are recommended, as is Terence Etherton QC.

Another crossover from the Chancery area is Hazel Williamson QC and Christopher Pymont QC both at 13 Old Square which is headed by William Christie.

And at 4 Stone Buildings, George Bompas QC is described as “extremely good, with practical solutions to difficult problems”, with Philip Heslop QC, John Brisby QC and Robert Hildyard QC also getting a mention. Antonio Bueno QC at 5 Paper Buildings is also rated, as is Barbara Dohmann QC at 2 Hare Court.

At 1 Essex Court Ian Glick QC, Elizabeth Gloster QC and Nicholas Strauss QC have all impressed, as has Terence Mowschenson QC who is “impressive and helpful, and definitely up and coming”.

Those are “not in the superstar category yet, but certainly well on their way” include Richard Field QC at 11 King's Bench Walk, Christopher Carr QC at 1 Essex Court chambers, Anthony Boswood QC at Fountain Court chambers, who is described as “very able and very highly regarded”, as are Nicholas Underhill QC and Nicholas Stadlen QC.

Gabriel Moss QC and Richard Adkins QC at 3-4 South Square are also well-regarded, as is Simon Mortimore QC.

Other names that have come to the fore are Geoffrey Vos QC at 3 Stone Buildings and Michael Burton QC at Littleton Chambers, Alan Boyle QC and Michael Briggs QC at thirteen Old Square, and Charles Aldous QC and David Unwin QC at 7 Stone Buildings.

In the more specialised area of buildings societies work, set head at 11 Old Square Timothy Lloyd QC is highly regarded and frequently instructed.