Hardwicke Building has stemmed fears of an exodus from its criminal group by poaching Patrick Upward QC from rival 9 Gough Square.
Upward takes over as head of the group from Zoe Smith who left Hardwicke Building in September following her appointment as a Circuit Judge on the South Eastern Circuit.
The appointment is welcome news for the set which has been hit by persistent rumours of discontent in the criminal group following Smith’s departure.
Upward, who specialises in fraud work, says there is a confident and vibrant atmosphere at Hardwicke.
The opportunity presented by leading a team of almost 30, he says, is an “exciting prospect”, despite the pressures facing the criminal bar.
One reason for the move, he says, is that 9 Gough Square is a predominantly civil set while Hardwicke places greater emphasis on its criminal department.
There is evidence of growing conflict between the civil and criminal elements of many common law chambers and law firms, mainly due to different levels of profitability.
Some, such as 4 Brick Court Chambers and Nottingham law firm Freeth Cartwright Hunt Dickins, have ditched their criminal departments entirely.
Upward will continue as a door tenant at Mercury Chambers in Leeds.
Two criminal tenants at Hardwicke are taking sabbaticals: Rory Field as Director of Public Prosecutions of Belize and Charles Briefel as a human rights lawyer in Bosnia.