Herbert Smith Freehills hires silk to bolster advocacy unit

Maitland Chambers’ silk Tom Leech QC has quit the bar to join Herbert Smith Freehills’ advocacy unit.

It is a rare silk hire for the firm, which launched its advocacy unit in 2005 under the leadership of former 11 Stone Buildings member Murray Rosen QC (21 March 2005) and Littleton Chambers’ Ian Gatt QC (11 April 2005).

Leech, who was called to the bar in 1988 and took silk in 2010, joins the firm as a partner, becoming the fourth partner in the HSF advocacy unit.

The firm said it marked a new phase for the advocacy unit, adding new skillsets to the existing group.

Gatt commented: “Hiring a QC of Tom Leech’s calibre is a real coup for the advocacy unit and marks an exciting new phase in our development. Personally and professionally Tom is an excellent fit for our practice.”

Leech has particular specialisms in commercial litigation, professional negligence and company and property litigation. His offshore practice at the bar covered Bermuda, Gibraltar, Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands. He appeared in the Thyssen Continuity Trust litigation in the Supreme Court of Bermuda and his reported cases include Mannai v Eagle Star and Scullion v Bank of Scotland.

HSF has seen a number of exits from its litigation practice over the last 18 months, including former co-arbitration head Charles Kaplan who joined US outfit Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe (1 May 2013). However, the advocacy unit has been unaffected so far.

The firm is currently defending the Royal Bank of Scotland against allegations that its April 2008 rights issue was defective and contained “material mis-statements and omissions” (6 January 2014).