Intellectual property (IP) sets One Raymond Buildings and 5 New Square are merging today (2 April).
The new set is named Hogarth Chambers, after the 18th-century painter who held back from making his engravings public until after the first law of copyright came into force.
Both sets have been seeking to expand for some time, and the new 27-strong set will be looking for new members, particularly in chancery and patent work. A spokesman says the set hopes to be the UK’s number one IP set within five years.
Christopher Morcom QC and Jonathan Rayner James QC, the respective former heads of One Raymond Buildings and 5 New Square, jointly head the new set. The former senior clerks, Sue Harding and Ian Duggan, are senior clerk and chambers director respectively.
One Raymond Buildings specialised in trademarks, patents, copyrights and design rights, while 5 New Square has expertise in copyright, media and entertainment and aspects of IP.
Morcom says: “5 New Square has specialists in insolvency, and it’s not uncommon for such points to crop up in IP cases, so we’re complementary. Hogarth Chambers provides a choice of people at different levels, and a choice within particular levels.”
5 New Square has been hoping to merge for two years in order to expand to at least 20 barristers. However, it has consistently failed to do so until now.
Rayner James adds: “Size is something a set of chambers like ours is more anxious about than a few years ago, [particularly] in terms of keeping up membership at all levels. Growth has stayed at the same level for several years.
“We’ve found that our IP range has not become internally particularly strong and doesn’t have an easy-to-develop capability. Our patent practice needs to develop too, as we only have young people in that department.”
The erosion of legal aid has led to a decline in the set’s copyright work, while aspects of its IP work have expanded. “Clients [in copyright disputes] either don’t litigate or find some other way of doing it,” says Rayner James. “We’ve been keeping an eye on fees and we’ve had to work harder and do more seminars to keep our profile up.”
Harding says her set has been thriving financially. “There’s strength in numbers, but there are no weaknesses here at all,” she says.