Awards preview: barrister of the year

On 22 June, 1400 people will crowd into the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane for the most eagerly-awaited event of the year. With only one week to go, The Lawyer brings you a sneak preview of the shortlisted individuals and teams

Andrew Caldecott QC
One Brick Court

His quick mind and sharp wit stood Caldecott in good stead in a year that saw him acting in two massive media actions: the successful appeal before the House of Lords for Naomi Campbell in her damages claim against the Daily Mirror and defending the BBC in the Hutton Inquiry. Despite Hutton’s findings, Caldecott emerged as providing a gritty, brave defence. A good example is his report, never argued in court but leaked to the media, into why Lord Hutton’s conclusions could be wrong in law. Also, defending an organisation that had, as it turned out, wrongly accused the Government of falsifying documents is no mean feat.

James Dingemans QC
3 Hare Court

The previously low-profile Dingemans was chosen by the Government as senior counsel to the Hutton Inquiry because of his forensic and investigative skills, as well as his independence. Few could argue that he disappointed. His cross-examination of witnesses was widely held to have been balanced and incisive, while his summaries of facts were nothing short of brilliant. However, it is not just the Hutton Inquiry in which Dingemans made his mark this year. He also won a major Caribbean criminal case centring around the controversial shooting by police officers of a suspect who turned out to be innocent, and acted in a major debt reclamation case in the Court of Appeal on behalf of BCCI Overseas against Bangladesh.

Paul Goulding QC
Blackstone Chambers

During the last 12 months, Paul Goulding QC has enhanced further his reputation as one of the UK’s top employment silks, with roles in a string of significant cases. These included two high-profile discrimination cases: acting for Nomura in its successful defence of discrimination claims brought by former employee Andrea Madarassy, and for the Law Society in its appeal against discrimination complaints brought by former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl. Goulding, a keen Tottenham Hotspur FC fan, also excelled in the football arena, advising West Ham United FC on its dispute with Reading FC over manager Alan Pardew, Watford FC on the action from former manager Gianluca Vialli, and ex-Fulham FC manager Jean Tigana on his dispute with the football club.

Richard Latham QC
Seven Bedford Row

Successfully prosecuting Ian Huntley in the Soham trial, arguably the most complex, and certainly the most gruelling, murder case of modern times, deserves major credit. The case is particularly noteworthy as there were no witnesses to prove Huntley’s crimes, which made Latham’s job uniquely difficult. The case also led to an independent inquiry, which raised highly significant data protection issues. Specifically, the inquiry looked into why Huntley’s records had been withheld when he applied for his caretaker job. Latham’s performance as prosecutor was confirmation of the barrister as one of the new leading lights at the criminal bar.

Gordon Pollock QC
Essex Court Chambers

The diary of Gordon Pollock QC, the renowned head of Essex Court Chambers, has been booked up since November 2002. On a single matter: BCCI Liquidators v Bank of England. The cost of the man’s undivided attention was a staggering £3m. Having pocketed his record brief fee, Pollock opened the biggest action of 2004 on 13 January as lead counsel for BCCI’s liquidators. During the trial, which could last until 2005, Pollock must establish that Old Lady herself was malfeasant or wilfully negligent – something notoriously difficult to prove. The only thing to distract him will be ensuring that his set continues to build on the successes of recent years.

David Sherborne
5 Raymond Buildings

After a 14-year career Sherborne is carving out a name for himself as a leader in defamation and media cases. Having previously acted for the Spice Girls, Princess Diana, many national newspapers and the two defendants in the McLibel claim, his career this year reached a new high: Sherborne acted as junior counsel for Michael Douglas in his landmark privacy battle against Hello! Magazine. There are others, though: he represented Sky in defending claims brought by the Beckhams over the infamous Rebecca Loos interview, and Morgan Lewis & Bockius thought he was the right man to represent Don King in his libel claim against Lennox Lewis.