Liverpool sets gear up for merger

John Malpas reports

TWO of Liverpool's oldest sets are to merge as a third celebrates the opening of a new wing.

A busy period for chambers in Liverpool has culminated in the announcement of a merger between 14 Castle Street and 7 Queen Avenue.

The merger, which both sets say will lead to an improved service, is indirectly linked to the unveiling of a new wing at nearby Exchange Chambers.

Recently, Exchange Chambers has taken on four tenants from Queen Avenue, including Edward Bartley Jones, appointed head of its commercial department last year, and John McCarroll and Julia Case, who decided not to follow their colleagues to 14 Castle Street.

Gary Quinn, senior clerk at Queen Avenue, said the four-tenant set was too small to continue on its own.

He added: "There is a tendency for chambers to become larger and for them to offer an across-the-board service."

The Queen Avenue barristers, led by the current head of chambers Nicholas Riddle, will form a commercial group in 14 Castle Street, where they will be moving once sufficient office space can be rented out.

Quinn will handle the commercial clerking at the new chambers.

Adrian Smith, head of chambers at Castle Street, said Queen Avenue's chancery expertise would complement his own set's common law service.

"The merger will further improve the quality of services which the set of chambers can offer to clients and there is now very little work which cannot be dealt with by an expert from within our ranks," he said.

Smith will retain his head of chambers position at the enlarged set which will have 26 tenants.

Meanwhile, barristers and clerks at Exchange Chambers are settling into the new wing made up of four conference rooms, a new clerk's room, and a reception/general office area.

It was opened by former head of chambers Mr Justice John Kay QC, presiding judge on the northern circuit.

He said the expansion was yet another move to improve facilities, particularly for solicitors and lay clients attending conferences with counsel.