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HNW Guide 2016

Chancery: Traditional (The London Bar)

Offering market-leading advice and representation across all areas of private client chancery work, Wilberforce Chambers are “obviously a top set in this area.” “They are probably the country’s leading chancery set,” one source proclaims, highlighting Wilberforce’s team of silks and senior juniors and saying: “I have no doubt that the talent coming through is just as good.”

Solicitors regard Wilberforce as “a real top-ranking chancery set,” noting that “they go above and beyond what they normally might have to do.” The set’s clerking team, led by practice director Nicholas Luckman and head clerk Mark Rushton, also receives widespread praise: “They are good on fees and the clerks keep in touch. They know us, they are available, and they tend to be very good.”

SILKS

Brian Green QC “is excellent – a star, certainly” according to one source. Green is a renowned expert in trusts and estates and pensions work. He is lauded as “one of the best, brightest and most influential QCs in the trusts and chancery space,” by one interviewee. “It’s a combination of things,” this source explains, “the combination of superior talents in different areas. His high calibre intellect with deep knowledge of the law, his instincts for the human side of clients, and in court he evolves a rapport with a judge. Every time I see him in court he has a way about him that builds the judge’s trust and confidence in him.” Another commentator is equally full of praise: “He is probably the best. He can solve problems that others cannot. He can get to the nub of things and is excellent with clients.”

Michael Furness QC‘s practice involves contentious trust matters and tax litigation. He is a “leading name. Brilliant, clear, personable, hard working. A major intellectual force,” one source reports. “I can’t speak highly enough,” says another, “Michael has depth of experience and knowledge I have yet to find equalled at the Bar. His experience and knowledge and general intellect is unsurpassed in my view. Unflappable. He’s good to have in a crisis situation.” Peers say: “I think he has a brilliant intellect. He is very respectful of his juniors and has a brilliant analytical brain.”

Robert Ham QC “knows the law inside out, but even more importantly, is willing to take difficult decisions. He never loses sight of the big picture.” according to one interviewee. He specialises in trust law. Instructing solicitors praise him as “a delight to work with,” with one lawyer particularly highlighting the fact that “he tells the client exactly what they need to know, not what they want to hear.” Another commentator says Ham has “a stellar intellect. A different bedside manner, but clients really like it. He is a real pleasure to work with. He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the law and its development. He is ideal for trustees as he can remain neutral. I love Robert, he’s difficult to beat.”

Gilead Cooper QC specialises in offshore trusts litigation, and he is widely praised for his intelligence and his incisive analysis of such cases. He has appeared before the courts in the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong on trusts matters. Sources praise Cooper’s ability to “pull rabbits out of hats” in fiendishly complex cases, describing him as “intellectually brilliant and very easy to work with.” One interviewee says: “He has the intellectual edge on a lot of other people. He doesn’t follow an obvious path or just give up. He’s usually able to think a way around things.” A fellow barrister sums up: “He is a very bright fellow. In a pub quiz it is very good to have him on your side – he knows everything!”

John Martin QC is Wilberforce’s head of chambers, and is well versed in all aspects of chancery. “He has been around a long time, and he knows it all. He genuinely does know it all. He’s got lots of reported cases, he is very good,” says one source. Observers further describe him as “authoritative, user-friendly and commercial.” Martin is also regarded for the “gravitas” he brings to his cases.

Fenner Moeran QC covers the waterfront of traditional and commercial chancery work. He also handles civil fraud, asset tracing and pensions matters. “He takes a sensible, commercial approach,” reports one fellow barrister. An instructing solicitor says: “He is one of my top picks. I think he is tremendous in every way. He has substantial pensions work, and he does some general trusts stuff too. On the pension side he is seen as a rising star.” One lawyer draws attention to Moeran’s advocacy: “He is really good. He is great on his feet, actually, which is often not the case with chancery barristers. He is great to work with and has done really well as a junior silk this year. He is one of our go-to barristers for things that will go to court.”

“He is definitely a name to watch,” people say about new silk Jonathan Hilliard QC, whose work covers trusts, pensions, and fraud disputes both onshore and offshore. Sources are lining up to sing his praises: “He is amazingly clever. He is also very nice to work with. We have worked on many matters.”One client is extremely laudatory: “He is probably one of the brightest I have worked with. He is incredibly responsive and he makes himself available. He is very user friendly.” Another comments that “he very very quickly gets to grips with complicated cases. He has a good bedside manner. He gets the issues and is a great public speaker. He’s very fluent. I can think of no improvements.”

JUNIORS

Andrew Child is “one of the most feared opponents on the chancery circuit. Tough, strategic, sharp and smart.” He is regularly instructed in contentious trusts and estates work. He is “a barrister you want on your side. Really good with clients. He’s unflappable with a good perspective and he’s good at calming down solicitors,” says one lawyer. Another praises his style: “I use him for clients who like the very high-level approach that he brings. He is very good on his feet.” One source says: “Andrew Child is great on his feet and my first choice for a difficult undue influence claim.”

Judith Bryant specialises in trust law. Sources consider her “an excellent junior,” who is “very calm and collected. She is measured and good at returning things on time. She is just a very good analytical, calm and collected barrister.” Another interviewee describes Bryant as “very personable and down to earth. She’s intelligent with a lot of common sense. Someone you can discuss things with, bounce ideas off and give other points of view to to test the pros and cons of a particular course. She knows the law very well and gives both good technical and workable, practical advice.”

“I am very much impressed by Emily Campbell of Wilberforce Chambers,” one interviewee states, “she is certainly highly incisive and careful.” Campbell acts on trusts, estates, and tax matters. “She is superb, amenable and straightforward,” says one solicitor, “you need barristers to give a straight answer. She always gives a straight answer.” Another source praises Campbell’s high-quality analysis: “She’s a very intelligent and capable barrister, but what she does is to look beyond what I’m asking her to consider – she’s very creative. She looks beyond the matter in hand and takes into account family and trust circumstances to come up with useful additions to the question being asked.”

Mark Studer practises in trusts and estates, property law and charities matters. “He’s an excellent draftsman, and is very straightforward and direct about what he thinks. He is very clear about how he expresses his views,” says an interviewee. An instructing solicitor says they consider Studer to be “always a very safe pair of hands. That is the feeling of the partners here who have instructed him. He has a very good technical knowledge of trust case law.”

The “really exceptional” Andrew Mold covers traditional chancery work including offshore trusts. He is particularly expert in breach of fiduciary duties cases. “He was very helpful and exceptionally responsive in short notice,” a source reveals, “he came back with salient advice. He is very patient and talks things through – very good under pressure and user friendly.” One instructing solicitor praises: “He is charming to work with, clever, thorough in his drafting. He is making a reputation for himself. He is very good.”

Tiffany Scott‘s specialities include trusts and estates disputes and real estate litigation. She is“exceptionally bright and hardworking,” reports one solicitor, “she makes the advice very easy to understand in subjects that are very, very difficult. She breaks it down for the client in a way that is easily digestible.” Another lawyer says: “She is very easy to work with. She takes a look at the bigger picture, rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae. She is definitely very good with clients, she is very approachable. I have seen her on her feet: she’s very good at cross-examination, and is very persuasive.”

Tax: Private Client (The London Bar)

A highly respected set, Wilberforce Chambers provides expert tax advice to HNW private clients. It is often instructed on matters concerning estates, offshore trusts and inheritance and capital gains. Its practitioners are extremely capable at acting in litigation cases as well as adept at taking an advisory role on matters.

Sources regard the set’s clerks as “very responsive,” adding: “They seem to know everything.” Mark Rushton leads the seven-strong clerking team.

SILKS

The “excellent” and “very responsive” Michael Furness QC is a notable name in the field of private client tax. “He is extremely good,” comments a peer, “he has a great knowledge of private client and inheritance tax law. He is instructed a lot by revenue but also has a private practice.” His practice encompasses onshore and offshore trust litigation, tax litigation, pensions and associated professional negligence claims. “He is a very smooth litigator; he had a huge success on Maize which everyone else is trying to replicate,” says a market peer. He has appeared on cases in Bermuda, Hong Kong, the Cayman Islands, Jersey, the Netherlands and New Brunswick.

The “extraordinarily good” Brian Green QC is regarded by sources as “masterful, definitely at the top of his form. ” A highly regarded traditional chancery barrister, Green has a strong private client tax practice and provides expert advice on matters involving trusts and estates. “He is known as a pensions and trusts man and has a tremendously good reputation on that side. He is very bright indeed and has a very good following in his area,” comments a market peer.

Jonathan Davey QC is a “brilliant barrister” praised by peers as “very good and very responsive.” He is best known for acting on complex high-value tax and private client disputes and has a specific practice focus acting for HMRC. Alongside this, he advises HNW individuals on pensions and cases relating to tax avoidance. He is regarded by peers as “an excellent draftsman and a charming and effective advocate with a good understanding of tax avoidance cases.”

Arts and Cultural Property Law  (The London Bar)

The “charming” Gilead Cooper QC of Wilberforce Chambers is a well-regarded traditional chancery silk who is highlighted for the intellectual creativity he brings to complex cases. An interviewee enthuses: “He’s intellectually brilliant and very easy to work with. He has the intellectual edge on a lot of other people, so he doesn’t just follow an obvious path or give up, he’s usually able to think a way around things.” He recently represented the Earl of Cardigan in a Court of Appeal case concerning the sale of Tottenham House. “He is a free thinker, he is not afraid of putting forward controversial perspectives and comes at things from surprising angles. He knows the area very well and provides authoritative and combative advice,” explains an interviewee.