Leaders of the property pack

Solicitors say they are using the top property silks in this field more for their advocacy skills than for their expert advice

At the top end of property litigation, solicitors are spoilt for choice, with no shortage of well-regarded silks. The message from leading lawyers in the field is that firms usually have favourite chambers and individuals and tend to stick with them.

One leading property litigation lawyer adds: “We are using barristers as advocates, not for advice, and so we want people who will get on top of the papers and sell the case to the judge.”

The top firms, they say, now tend to do most landlord and tenant work in-house and only turn to counsel for cases where they are not allowed to represent themselves. The following list is not exhaustive but is based on the subjective recommendations of leading practitioners in this area.

In landlord and tenant work, the situation has changed little from last year, with one name – Falcon chambers – dominating the scene. Some individuals at the chambers are singled out as being particularly good. Kim Lewison QC comes top of many solicitors' lists, Paul Morgan QC is described as “a great favourite” and “very highly regarded” and Jonathan Gaunt QC is “top notch”. Kirk Reynolds QC and new silks Nicholas Dowding QC and Jonathan Brock QC are also recommended.

Another set receiving too many recommendations to mention is 4 Breams Buildings. At the set John Furber QC is considered “exceedingly good and thorough”, Michael Barnes QC has “an incredible mind” and is “probably on the slightly more aggressive side in court”, John Cherryman QC is “excellent”, and Joseph Harper QC is also mentioned.

At 9 Old Square, the head, Robert Reid QC, and Nicholas Patten QC, Simon Berry QC and Michael Driscoll QC are considered very good and impressive. At the same set Judith Jackson QC and new silk David Hodge QC are also recommended.

Hazel Williamson QC of 13 Old Square, headed by William Christie, is considered “very strong on rent review” and is recommended by many leading solicitors.

Michael Briggs QC, of Charles Sparrow QC's Thirteen Old Square, is also noted. Arden Chambers is considered “exceptionally good both in ability and standard of service”, with Andrew Arden QC singled out for recommendation.

For chancery-related matters, Wilberforce Chambers, headed by Edward Nugee QC, tends to be the favourite. Terence Etherton QC is described as “very distinguished in this field” and Robert Ham QC is also well regarded.

Other barristers recommended include Michael Burton QC at Littleton chambers, Roger Ter Haar QC of 2 Crown Office Row, Christopher Moger QC at 4 Pump Court, and Wilberforce chambers' John Martin QC and Jules Sher QC.

Planning lawyers consistently recommend 4-5 Gray's Inn Square as a strong set in this field. Jeremy Sullivan QC is described as “a very effective advocate” and “absolutely brilliant in the High Court”. Brian Ash QC is “very, very well regarded”, with a style that goes down well with inspectorates, and he is tipped for the top. Also at the set John Steel QC, the “great” Duncan Ouseley QC, Clive Newberry QC and Robin Barratt QC are recommended by several practitioners.

The specialist planning set at 2-3 Gray's Inn is highly recommended, in particular Mark Lowe QC and Anthony Dinkin QC. At 2 Mitre Court Buildings set head Michael Fitzgerald QC, and George Bartlett QC and Anthony Anderson QC are all highly regarded. John Taylor QC, from the same set, is “good fun and thorough”.

Lionel Read QC, head of 1 Serjeants' Inn, is described as “a terrific fellow with a great appetite for work”. at the same chambers, Patrick Clarkson QC and William Hicks QC are also noted. At 2 Harcourt Buildings, Robin Purchas QC, Keith Lindblom QC and Richard Phillips QC are recommended.

Another set well regarded by planning lawyers is 4 Breams Buildings. Singled out for mentions are the set head Christopher Lockhart-Mummery QC, and John Howell QC and Richard Drabble QC.