One Garden Court swells ranks as nine defect from 22 Old Buildings

Chris Fogarty

One Garden Court has established one of the largest family law sets in the UK after the defection of nine specialist barristers from 22 Old Buildings.

The move strengthens One Garden Court to 41 tenants and leaves 22 Old Buildings, a broad-based common law set, with 22 tenants. The nine are citing the need for greater specialisation as a major reason for the move, which is understood to have taken the set by complete surprise.

"The days of the enthusiastic amateur who dabbles in everything have gone," said Bruce Coleman, one of the defectors. "I think solicitors and clients expect you to have expertise in a specialist area. When people move there are a number of reasons. We saw it as a bonus that One Garden Court is a specialist set of family chambers."

Coleman added that once they knew they were going, "there was very little point in hanging about", but he declined to elaborate further on the reasons for the departure.

The others moving with Coleman are Ian Peddie QC, Peter Horrocks, Judith Rowe, Stephen Cobb, John Stocker, Caroline Streets, Andrew Bagchi and Michael Liebrecht.

22 Old Buildings senior clerk Alan Brewer said: "They feel the future is in specialisation and we don't. Since they've left we've taken someone on and we're looking at taking some other people on. We're in the recruitment business."

Richard Beams, senior clerk at leading family law set 1 Mitre Court, said he was not concerned at the sudden expansion of One Garden Court and pointed out that chambers were often able to retain much of a departing barrister's workload.