The Bar

To those in the know, Jonathan Adkin has been tipped for success for some time.

Jonathan Adkin, Serle Court

But now he is bursting on to the commercial stage in serious fashion thanks to his instruction as the only leading junior to appear in the mammoth Berezovsky v Abramovich battle of the oligarchs. Adkin is lining up opposite some of the bar’s greats to represent Inna Gudavadze Patarkatsishvili, the widow of Georgian oligarch Arkadi ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili, who, Boris Berezovsky claims, was part of the deal to buy oil company Sibneft in the 1990s. The case, one of the biggest claims to hit the High Court in recent memory, is taking up much of Adkin’s time at present. Once it is over expect him to be in high demand.

Raquel Agnello QC, 11 Stone Buildings

Raquel Agnello QC took silk just two years ago, but has consolidated her reputation since then with a series of victories on big pensions cases. Agnello acts mainly for the Pensions Regulator. Most recently she secured victory for the body in the Court of Appeal in a case brought by the administrators of Nortel and Lehman Brothers. The case is a crucial one in today’s environment, concerning as it does an insolvent company’s obligations to pension scheme members. It is set to be heard in the Supreme Court later this year. With pensions such a hot issue, Agnello’s expertise is likely to be called on often throughout 2012.

Camilla Bingham, One Essex Court

Praised by instructing solicitors for her commercial awareness and ability to connect with lay clients, One Essex Court junior Camilla Bingham is tipped to take silk within the next few years. Her company and commercial practice has seen her argue a number of cases recently outside the UK, including the mammoth four-year Jahre litigation in the Cayman Islands. Last year Bingham supported Lord Grabiner QC in Guernsey in a case filed by the former director of a hedge fund; judgment is awaited. Bingham has two trials scheduled for the High Court this year, including another with Grabiner, and will appear as sole counsel in early 2013 in a shareholder dispute in the Chancery Division.

Monica Carss-Frisk QC, Blackstone Chambers

Recently elected as co-head of Blackstone Chambers, Monica Carss-Frisk QC is a leading light at the bar in more ways than one. She is one of the very few women to head a set of chambers, but is also recognised as a public and human rights star. The Finnish-born silk is setting out Blackstone’s stall to be flexible and innovative as the world of the bar and litigation continue to change. In the meantime she also continues to appear on a host of big cases. Last year’s list included winning the FSA’s defence against a judicial review of its handling of payment protection insurance claims, representing shareholders of Northern Rock before the tax and chancery Upper Tribunal, and acting for the Metropolitan Police in a dispute related to the G20 demonstrations in 2009.

Alain Choo Choy QC, One Essex Court

Just three years after taking silk, One Essex Court’s Alain Choo Choy QC has established himself as a leading commercial QC. This year will see him take to the stage in the long-awaited £2bn dispute between Michael Cherney and Rusal owner Oleg Deripaska, which will be heard in April. Choo Choy is one of three QCs instructed for Deripaska by Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. The case follows a year that saw Choo Choy acting for a variety of parties, including Lehman Brothers Commodity Services and the British Arab Commercial Bank. This young silk’s case list has been consistently full during the often difficult transition from junior to QC. Deripaska will not be his last appearance on the biggest cases out there.

Margaret Gray, Brick Court Chambers

Brick Court Chambers junior Margaret Gray spent a lot of time in transit last year, making her way from London to Luxembourg for an astonishing nine appearances in the Court of Justice of the EU. Gray is now regularly instructed directly by the European Commission to lead cases in the European courts, as well as acting for governments in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Perhaps most notably, Gray has taken over from Brick Court colleague James Flynn QC to lead the Commission’s defence against the appeal brought by Fifa and Uefa against the UK’s decision to list major football championships as events that should be broadcast for free. The appeal will be heard later this year, boosting Gray’s reputation – and air miles – even further.

John Hendy QC, Old Square Chambers

Old Square Chambers’ John Hendy QC continues to be at the forefront of trade union law. As standing counsel for a host of trade unions Hendy was busier than ever last year. With disputes over employees’ rights leading to continued strikes and discord, his advice has proved pivotal in a number of cases. Perhaps the best known was the dispute between British Airways (BA) and trade union Unite, which rumbled through the courts for some time before a settlement was finally announced in May 2011. The agreement safeguarded crucial rights for BA employees, including a new trade union facilities agreement and a two-year pay deal. Hendy also continues to act as the chair of think tank the Institute of Employment Rights and, in a speech at the GMB union conference in July he pledged to fight for the right to strike through the courts if necessary. In these uncertain times advocates such as Hendy should be celebrated.

Robert Jay QC, 39 Essex Street

Being given the job of counsel to one of the most closely followed public inquiries in recent years could be a double-edged sword, but to date 39 Essex Street silk Robert Jay QC has acquitted himself with dexterity in his role for the Leveson Inquiry into the press. With every question to inquiry witnesses being dissected by all corners of the media, Jay is perhaps the most-watched barrister around at the moment. Luckily he is no stranger to the attention, having earlier in the year defended the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) against personal injury claims relating to the ‘Mau Mau emergency’ in Kenya in the1950s. That case also attracted intense coverage, and while the FCO defence was unsuccessful it nevertheless helped to solidify Jay’s reputation in the public law arena.


David Sherborne, 5 Raymond Buildings

Last year belonged to David Sherborne. The 5 Raymond Buildings barrister has had a role in pretty much all of the big media cases going, from privacy injunctions to phone-hacking.

He is currently to be seen on the Leveson Inquiry into the press, representing 53 ‘core participants’. Sherborne’s rise to stardom was always on the cards. As long ago as 2004 The Lawyer identified him as a junior to watch. As well as Leveson, Sherborne has been instructed by a host of celebrities – and Berwin Leighton Paisner’s Graham Shear – to bring civil claims against News International over phone-hacking. Not to be outdone, Sherborne also went to Strasbourg on behalf of Formula 1 supremo Max Mosley, supporting Lord David Pannick QC in Mosley’s human rights case against the Government. Mosley lost, but the case highlights how Sherborne is now the go-to junior for all types of media law.

Hugh Tomlinson QC, Matrix Chambers

The lawyer at the heart of many media storms was Matrix Chambers’ Hugh Tomlinson QC. From super-injunctions to phone-hacking, Tomlinson could be found representing celebrity and ordinary litigants alike against the excesses of the press. He acted for individuals including former RBS chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin and a well-known footballer seeking to protect their identities through the use of injunctions. Indeed, many of Tomlinson’s reported cases last year feature the now infamous three-letter acronyms used for that purpose. But Tomlinson continued to

pick up other work too. He successfully fought the Law Society’s corner in its efforts to shut down the Solicitors from Hell website and acted for celebrities such as Jude Law in the phone-hacking scandal. In media law terms, Tomlinson is truly headline news.

Nigel Tozzi QC, 4 Pump Court

Nigel Tozzi QC of 4 Pump Court will appear in the Supreme Court this year attempting to ward off the appeal brought by banks Dresdner Kleinwort and Commerzbank against last year’s Court of Appeal (CoA) decision in a case brought by more than 100 bankers. Tozzi’s 83 clients, along with a further 21 claimants, are seeking to claim up to €52m in unpaid bonuses that they say the banks had agreed to honour. Back in March the CoA overturned the first-instance judgment, finding for the claimants in a triumphant win for Tozzi against the might of Jonathan Sumption QC. The win was testimony to Tozzi’s reputation as a tenacious and determined advocate. As joint head of 4 Pump Court he is also leading the chambers’ continued success.

Christopher Vajda QC, Monckton Chambers

Appearing in not one but two of The Lawyer’s top 20 cases for 2012, and with two Supreme Court cases expected to be heard in the coming months, Monckton Chambers’ Christopher Vajda QC is on a roll. In March interlocutory hearings will begin as telecoms giant Nokia, represented by Vajda, seeks damages for alleged price-fixing against LCD screen manufacturers, including Samsung. Later in the year Vajda will argue the case for HM Revenue & Customs over VAT payments on loyalty card schemes in the Supreme Court and will also return to the court to argue a competition case, BCL Old Co Ltd & Ors v BASF & Ors. Vajda’s EU and competition expertise is top-notch.