Approachability, objectivity and good judgement are among key skills that solicitors look for in counsel, says Daniel Holden. Daniel Holden is a freelance journalist.
Personal injury work at the London Bar is represented by a wide range of silks, while medical negligence work tends to attract top-class specialists.
If there is one name on everyone's lips however, it is that of Daniel Brennan QC at 39 Essex Street, rated in both areas for his “brilliant advocacy” and “real impact on the judge”.
Head of set Edwin Glasgow QC commands respect and at the same set, Richard Davies QC is noted for “best client care and hassle-free service”. Instructing solicitors also like working with Colin Mackay QC.
Jean Ritchie QC at 4 Paper Buildings (McGregor QC) is high on the list of medical negligence specialists. She is praised for her “consistency” and “good judgement”.
2 Crown Office Row (Hamilton QC) has a number of top silks in the fields of PI and medical negligence. The “charming and clever” Christopher Purchas QC grasps complex legal issues for PI work. Other members of chambers have medical negligence skills, notably Richard Lynagh QC who is praised for his “thoroughness and explanation as a leader”.
Robert Owen QC at 1 Crown Office Row (Seabrook QC) is recommended for his “excellent presence in court” and “approachability”. The set scores praise for its number of medical negligence specialists. Philip Havers QC (“cautious but fantastic”) and Sally Smith QC (“very good in conference”) receives numerous mentions. Stephen Miller QC “works very hard” and Duncan Matheson QC is described as “first rate”. James Badenoch QC (“a tremendous fighter”) is the name on many lips.
Upstairs at 1 Crown Office Row, head of chambers Mark Strachan QC is highly praised.
3 Serjeants' Inn attracts praise for its medical negligence practice. Philip Naughton QC, head of the set, is regarded as “superb”. Adrian Whitfield QC is “intellectually the best in the field” and “explains very well to clients”.
At the same set, Robert Francis QC “wears his skills lightly”, with an affability solicitors appreciated. The “very cool and objective” John Grace QC is “exceptionally good” with “his own unique strategy of the case”. Nicola Davies QC is “very focused, very precise and effective on her feet” and is praised for her “more robust forensic skills”.
For some, Simeon Maskrey QC at 9 Bedford Row stands “head and shoulders” above the rest, bringing a “fresh approach to litigation” and arguing “very well”.
Others gaining recommendations include John Leighton Williams QC at Farrar's Building who has carved out “an excellent reputation”.
Ronald Walker QC heads the “first rate” chambers at 12 King's Bench Walk and is described as “excellent” in the fields. Iain Goldrein QC is “very good” – in particular with catastrophic injury cases.
The “talented” and “outstanding” John Cherry QC, head of 8 Stone Buildings, is the “first choice” for many solicitors.
Brian Langstaff QC at Cloisters is noted as “very professional”, in particular for work-related stress cases, while head of chambers Laura Cox QC is recommended as a favourite for medical negligence work.
The chambers of Roger Henderson QC at 2 Harcourt Buildings gains acclaim. Henderson is “spectacularly good” and is praised for “understanding the diplomacy” of sensitive medical negligence cases. Piers Ashworth QC is renowned as “very tough” and “fabulous in court”. The broadly based set, having commercial experience, gives “an edge to their advice”.
John Foy QC at 9 Gough Square (Brent QC), who has recently taken silk, is well-regarded for his industry-related PI practice and is “very thorough and knowledgeable”.
Michael Spencer QC at 1 Paper Buildings (Slater QC) is on the list and rated for medical negligence, especially pharmaceutical cases.
Diana Cotton QC is “outstanding” and “very experienced” at Devereux Chambers. Michael Burton QC, head of Littleton Chambers, is “frighteningly clever”, while Ian Karsten QC, head of chambers at Queen Elizabeth Building, is “superbly intelligent” and noted for his work on cerebral palsy cases.
Vernon Pugh QC of 2-3 Gray's Inn Square (Scrivener QC) is “a real star”. He has a “very broad practice” but solicitors like his advocacy and his ability to “destroy expert witnesses”.