Who reigns over the regions?

When it comes to acclaim for criminal barristers in the regions, Matheu Swallow finds that there is no north-south divide

The provincial criminal Bar comes highly acclaimed from north to south, with solicitors praising the ability of many barristers to work as part of the team.

Wales is said to be very fortunate in having a good selection of Queen’s Counsel to choose from. Among those recommended are John Rees QC of 33 Park Place and from Farrar’s Building in London are Leighton Davies QC and Patrick Harrington QC practising on the Wales and Chester circuit along with Geoffrey Nice QC who does defence work on the South Eastern circuit.

In Birmingham, there are “no worries” about Jeremy Roberts QC of 9 Gough Square (London) and, on the very technical side, Nicholas Blake QC of 2 Garden Court (London), both of whom have “put in very good performances”.

Head of chambers at 4 Fountain Court, Richard Wakerley QC is “approachable, professional, capable and very good with clients” while, at the same chambers, John Mitting QC is hot on fraud with John Saunders QC also coming exceptionally highly-rated.

In Leeds James Stewart QC, Michael Harrison QC and Malcolm Swift QC all of Park Court chambers are well-respected, while on the Bristol circuit Michael Hubbard QC of 1 Paper Buildings (London) is “very precise” for fraud cases.

Other rated individuals on this circuit are the heads of their respective chambers, Charles Barton QC at Albion and Roderick Denyer QC at St John’s, who is “very good with clients and settles them down well which is very important in our line of work”.

Head of chambers at Walnut House in Exeter is the highly-rated Francis Gilbert QC whose colleague, Paul Dunkels QC, is also described as “exceptionally good, exceptionally human”.

Juniors making the grade in the regions are David Williams of Chavasse Court in Liverpool, Stephen Twist and John Elvidge, both of York Chambers and in Leeds, Gerald Lumley of 9 Woodhouse Square is rated, with St Paul’s chambers also highly regarded.

Those who are also singled out for praise at St Paul’s chambers are Andrew Stubbs, Christopher Batty, Jonathan Rose, Andrew Lees and, despite not long called,the “very impressive” Sarah Barlow.

Providing a good service from Sedan House in Chester are John Wyn Williams, Owen Edwards and Andrew Thomas, who all “have an ability to communicate, not only with the client but also with judges and solicitor-advocates [like me]”.

It is said that solicitors who have transferred to the Bar make good barristers because “they have an improved understanding that makes the whole team exercise that much easier”. Martin Jenkins of Coleridge Chambers in Birmingham is “doing very well”.

Three who win praise from Bristol are Simon Morgan who, for one person’s money, is “one of the best senior juniors around incredibly thorough and extremely conscientious”, Simon Goodman, also of St John’s, and Michael Fitton of Albion Chambers.

These are both highly-regarded chambers. At the former, Ian Dixey is “good with clients” and Robert Duval is rated, and at the latter Michael Mather-Lees and Stephen Mooney win praise.

In Manchester, Lincoln House has strength in depth, notably Robert Platts, Suzanne Goddard, Elizabeth Nicholls, Peter Wright and David Sumner. At 58 King Street Ian McMeekin is rated and, at 9 St John Street, Mike Murray produces work of a “very high standard”.

All of the above are tipped, for the effort they put into a case and the calibre of the work they produce, to “go a long way”.

Other rated juniors are at 4 Fountain Court in Birmingham, Anthony Muller and Mark Wall are both described as “very able and, most important of all, prepared to get stuck in”.

Also in Birmingham James Burbidge of 7 Fountain Court is “very good” as is Robert Juckes of 3 Fountain Court.

At 9 Park Place in Cardiff, Marian Lewis is an “extremely able lawyer” and commands “great respect”. Susan Ferrier is also rated there, while at 32 and 33 Park Place respectively are the talented Stephen Jeary and Timothy Evans.

Some practitioners appear to have established a very good relationship with Walnut House chambers in Exeter in particular, and are happy to recommend Iain Leadbetter, Robert Macrae, Michael Melville-Shreeve and Geoffrey Mercer.