The Liverpool bar is set for a shake-up with four sets involved in merger talks.
Sources within chambers said that a formal decision has been taken to merge Martin's Building and The Corn Exchange.
This will create the largest set in the North West and one of the largest in the country, with nearly 70 members.
The new set, to be called Water Street, will specialise in crime, family and personal injury work.
Merger talks have also been going on between Peel House and Derby Square chambers.
It was thought the two sets would complete negotiations early next year. But, following a spate of departures from Peel House – one of the oldest and most established sets in Liverpool – the talks are now in jeopardy.
A source told The Lawyer that the set's eight-strong criminal unit are quitting to join rival Liverpool set Chavasse Court Chambers.
Head of Chavasse Court Teresa Pepper was unavailable for comment.
The source said that Peel House was probably the most powerful set in Liverpool 10 years ago. It had 28 tenants earlier this year, but six barristers left before August and four personal injury barristers, including the highly-rated Charles Feeny, then left to form their own set at 42 Castle Street.
One member who left blamed the exodus on bad management. He said if the criminal unit leave, the 12 remaining members were unlikely to be an attractive merger proposition and that without such a prospect on the horizon, it would struggle to survive.
More likely is that rival sets will steal in for the richest pickings, leaving the remainder to fend for themselves.