Chambers left in housing crisis as sets find no room at the Inns

Leading chambers are being forced to battle for commercial leases as the Inns reach bursting point.

Space in the Inns is at a premium and sets say it is almost impossible to find premises large enough to house the larger sets or those set on expansion.

This is forcing chambers such as magic circle sets One Essex Court and Fountain Court to look outside their traditional stomping grounds.

Thanet House, the former Immigration Appeals Tribunal base valued at £10m, is back on the market and is just one of the properties prompting renewed interest from chambers.

Solicitors Wedlake Bell had been in negotiations to acquire the premises but these are understood to have fallen through when partners voted against the move.

In addition to One Essex Court and Fountain Court, Monckton Chambers and 4 Essex Court are also understood to have investigated the possibility of leasing the site.

If Monckton’s planned merger with 4-5 Gray’s Inn Square goes ahead as expected, the combined sets would require substantial extra space, not available anywhere in the Inns.

Ideally, most chambers would prefer to remain within the Inns because of the kudos the address provides and the three-month break clauses offered in the Inns’ leasing agreements.

Such clauses, which are unheard of in commercial leases, are highly sought-after by chambers because of the level of flexibility they provide.