High-flying start for East End set

AN ARRAY of legal names made the short journey from the Inns of Court to London's Brick Lane to open a new multi-ethnic chambers in the street famous for its market and curries.

Tower Hamlets Barristers' Chambers, the second set to open in Brick Lane, has six tenants specialising in immigration, housing and criminal law.

Tenants hailing from Bangladesh, Uganda, Mauritius and the UK and operating from two rooms, have the minimum of facilities but say they are determined to see their venture work.

And the set got off to an auspicious start thanks to the presence of a Law Lord at the opening ceremony on 2 May.

Lord Hoffman was joined by several leading QCs, including Michael Beloff and Michael Fysh, at the official opening which was followed by a Bengali meal at a nearby restaurant.

Lord Hoffman had befriended the set's founder

Mohammed Ullah at an Inns of Court function when the two established they had a mutual friend in Dakar, where Ullah used to be a law lecturer.

Ullah says the support for the chambers offered by the Law Lord has given the tenants an important morale boost.

He says they have "started from zero" but hope to benefit from their location which is in the heart of the Tower Hamlets community but just half an hour away from the courts.

"We have very competitive fees, and we take whatever comes through the door," he says.

The set's practice manager Ali Reza Khan has good links with the local community from previous work as a legal adviser for an ethnic community project. He says the community is "vibrant, resilient and growing" but has endemic problems linked to poverty.

"These problems require solution, through proper legal means," he said at the opening ceremony, adding that the availability of justice was one of the basic needs of a civilised society.