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The Legal 500 2020

Wilberforce is delighted to feature prominently in the latest edition of The Legal 500 UK. We have had another successful year and have three top-tier set rankings and are recommended as a leading set in a further eight practice areas. We have 139 barrister rankings including 12 new entries.

Praise is also directed at our staff, with 13 individuals in the clerks’ room singled out. A summary of our recommendations is below and full coverage in the 2020 guide can be found here.

Leading set rankings

  • Charities
  • Commercial litigation
  • Company and partnership
  • Fraud: civil
  • Insolvency
  • Offshore
  • Pensions
  • Private client: personal tax
  • Private client: trusts and probate
  • Professional negligence
  • Property litigation

Set Overview

The Rolls-Royce of pensions sets’ and sitting ‘right at the top of the tree when it comes to big-ticket trust matters’, Wilberforce Chambers is in ‘the Premier League’ of Chancery sets with ‘the strength and depth you would expect of a chambers of its calibre’. Chambers is also developing its reputation as ‘a top-class’ property set and reinforcing its leading positioning in the offshore market where its ‘top-notch’ and ‘collaborative’ members are considered ‘thought leaders’, particularly in the Cayman Islands where ‘a number of its QCs have begun to make their mark’. Further strengthening chambers at the top end, James Bailey took silk in 2019. Clients appreciated the set’s one-day commercial and trust litigation conferences which is ‘of an excellent quality’. ‘Always a pleasure to deal with’, practice director Nicholas Luckmanhas no rival’ at the Bar. Together with head practice manager Mark Rushton, Luckman runs ‘a very slick operation’ that befits the calibre of the set’s members. The ‘fabulous’ clerking team ‘delivers a service with professionalism and integrity’. ‘Forever going above and beyond’, senior practice manager Fraser Geddes is recommended for his ‘helpful, can-do approach’. ‘He is incredibly client-focused and will always do everything he can to accommodate.’ Also worthy of a special mention is senior practice manager Danny Smillie, who is ‘excellent, and goes the extra mile’. Practice manager Stewart Cameron is ‘a delight to work alongside. Extremely polite, impressively organised, and responsive to boot. You get the sense nothing is too much trouble for him, and he will do all he can to deliver the highest quality service’. Solicitors have also been ‘particularly impressed’ by practice manager Ben Rippengale. The ‘exceptionally helpfulAndrew Barnes has recently been promoted to senior practice manager and, judging from solicitor feedback, this was a shrewd move by chambers (‘His clerking is second to none and he has been an absolute asset to the team; he’s excellent – responsive, helpful, and has a genuine understanding of the teams he works with’). Antonia Matthew has also been promoted to practice assistant. In addition to the internal promotions, the team has recently expanded too with new practice managers Jess Edson and Conor Michaels arriving from Keating Chambers and 4 Pump Court respectively, junior clerk Georgia Pilbro arriving from Doughty Street Chambers alongside Francisco Lannuzzi and Jake Walker in their first clerking roles. Hayley Eustace is the set’s marketing and business development manager. Offices in: London

 

Agriculture

Leading Juniors:

  • Harriet Holmes ‘Her drafting skills are first class, and her attention to detail is excellent.’

Charities

Leading Silks:

  • Jonathan Davey QC  ‘Is an excellent advocate who is is clear, persuasive and unflappable and his submissions are logically ordered and rigorous.
  • Michael Furness QCIs very responsive and knowledgeable.

Commercial Litigation

Leading Silks:

  • Alan Gourgey QCHas a fantastic brain.
  • John Wardell QCAn excellent advocate, both at first instance in the High Court and in the Court of Appeal.
  • Thomas Lowe QCA first-class advocate and a pleasure to work with.
  • Terence Mowchenson QCA dream to work with.
  • Joanna Smith QCAn excellent advocate, she is dynamic and inspires confidence.
  • Lexa Hilliard QCHer sheer depth of experience means she has seen and done virtually everything, either here or overseas.
  • Ian Croxford QCThe best cross-examiner I have ever seen, destroyed the other side’s witnesses and had the judge eating out of his hand.
  • Tim Penny QC  ‘Very diligent and thoughtful – he treats every case as if he himself was a party to the litigation.
  • Nikki Singla QCHe provides sensible and commercial advice and his written work has been excellent.
  • James Bailey QCHis common sense judgement and practical advice put him head and shoulders above his peers.

Leading Juniors:

  • Iain PesterAn excellent lawyer who instinctively knows what will play out well and what will irritate a court.
  • Edward SawyerIncredibly bright and hardworking, dedicated and diligent.
  • James Walmsley ‘Acutely intelligent and very hands-on, which is a great combination.

Top ten under eight years’ call:

  • Jack WatsonVery responsive, down to earth, and gives well considered and pragmatic advice.

Company and partnership

 Leading Silks:

  • Lexa Hilliard QC  ‘She is very effective even when under extreme pressure.
  • Terence Mowschenson QCEasy to work with and makes himself available at short notice.
  • John Wardell QCHe has a very lucid mind and is extremely good on his feet.
  • Marcia Shekerdemian QCFerociously bright while very user friendly and proactive.
  • Lawrence Cohen QCGets under the skin of case, is a great tactician and clients like him.
  • Max Mallin QCGood with clients, clear in his advice, excellent in cross and with judges.
  • Nikki Singla QCHe is exceptional in court and with clients and turns out excellent work.
  • James Bailey QCFantastic attention to detail, energy, and a good manner in court.

Leading Juniors:

  • Graeme Halkerston Noted for his intellect and responsiveness.
  • Iain PesterVery analytical and thorough in his approach, good client handling skills and skilful advocate.

Financial services

Leading Silks: 

  • James Ayliffe QCA great QC to have in a crisis, and is more than willing to roll up his sleeves and get stuck in.
  • Terence Mowschenson QCProvided very clear and robust advice.

Fraud: civil

Leading Silks: 

  • Alan Gourgey QC Outstandingly good on his feet, very able legally and tactically, and excellent with solicitors and clients.
  • John Wardell QCSharp, relentless and fierce, John has a frightening ability to recall incredible levels of detail.
  • Thomas Lowe QCEnormously respected in the Cayman market, both by the profession and, crucially, by the judiciary.
  • Tim Penny QCAn outstanding advocate whose charm and sound judgement inspire confidence in clients and court alike.
  • Lawrence Cohen QCHighly experienced in complex offshore civil fraud.

Leading Juniors:

  • Iain Pester Tremendously commercially minded and hugely respected.’
  • Anna LittlerConsiders all the angles, her depth of thought and analysis is very impressive.
  • Edward Sawyer Always has an incredible grasp of the detail and is a pleasure to work with.

Insolvency

Leading Silks:

  • Marcia Shekerdemian QCA star of the senior insolvency Bar; has an enormous capacity for work and never phased, and always great with the client.’
  • Lexa Hilliard QCShe is an impressive silk.
  • Terence Mowschenson QCExcellent advocate who has a very good eye for detail and is thorough in his preparation.
  • Alan Gourgey QC An outstanding silk.
  • James Bailey QC  ‘He reads the tribunal well and gets on the right side of the Registrar.

Leading Juniors:

  • Iain Pester Very analytical and thorough in his approach, good client handling skills and a skilful advocate.
  • Bobby FriedmanHe is very bright and gives timely and effective advice.
  • Thomas RobinsonHe has never appeared without having complete mastery of his papers and his arguments and is always quick on his feet.

Media and entertainment (including art and cultural property)

Leading Silks:

  • Gilead Cooper QCHe is an experienced advocate with real knowledge of the art market and its issues.

Offshore

Leading Silks:

  • Brian Green QC  ‘A superb intellect with the ability to get to the nub of a matter and provide creative solutions to problems.
  • Gilead Cooper QCAn incredibly quick mind with great intellectual powers, he is an excellent courtroom advocate.
  • John Wardell QCUnflappable, impressive and with the ability to really engage with senior judges on their level.
  • Michael Furness QCHugely experienced, with exceptional knowledge in the specialist area of contentious trusts.
  • Robert Ham QCExcellent and first-rate.
  • Terence Mowschenson QCExcellent with clients and charming in court.
  • Thomas Lowe QCA pleasure to work with and an extremely effective cross-examiner.
  • James Ayliffe QCWell liked by onshore firms.
  • Jonathan Hilliard QCHe has a fantastic ability to map an effective way through all the relevant issues.
  • Clare Stanley QCA very reassuring, authoritative and approachable silk who exudes a calm aura.
  • Nikki Singla QC ‘ A silk unafraid to roll up his sleeves, get stuck in to the detail and deliver some home truths when necessary.

Leading Juniors:

  • Graeme Halkerston Instructed on complex civil fraud matters.
  • Andrew MoldHe has a track record of big trusts cases.
  • Jack WatsonA fantastic senior-junior who is brilliant in writing and robust in conference.
  • Anna LittlerShe has experience in the Isle of Man and Bermuda.

Pensions

Leading Silks: 

  • Brian Green QCVery experienced and knowledgeable pensions silk who presents with style, and is charming to a fault.
  • Michael Tennet QCBest all round pensions silk, incredibly hardworking, committed and very personable with lay clients.
  • Paul Newman QCHe has a first-class mind and is well-known for his courtroom manner and robust pragmatism.
  • Fenner Moeran QCFirst-rate on handling pensions disputes, particularly those with a scams focus.
  • Michael Furness QCHugely experienced with an encyclopaedic knowledge of pensions law.
  • Jonathan Hilliard QCExtremely bright, highly knowledgeable and explains difficult concepts clearly.
  • Jonathan Davey QCA top-class silk. His advocacy is attractive, thoughtful and measured.
  • Robert Ham QCAn intellectual giant, who always finds a pragmatic solution and is brilliant with clients.

Leading Juniors:

  • Andrew Mold Really the go-to senior junior for tricky pensions work.
  • Edward Sawyer  Considerable insight on procedural and tactical issues, adopting a thorough and “no stones unturned” approach.
  • Emily CampbellVery organised, highly intelligent, strategically sound and very accessible.
  • Sebastian AllenHighly intelligent, articulate and always very precise in his thinking and drafting.
  • James McCreathReal expertise in pensions matters, a true technician and extremely hardworking.
  • Thomas Robinson ‘Very enjoyable, pleasant to work with and impressive in meetings with clients.’
  • Bobby FriedmanExcellent on paper and a punchy advocate, with a very good knowledge of pensions and related areas of law.
  • Benjamin FaulknerExtremely bright and hardworking junior with great presence beyond his call.
  • Emily McKechnieExtremely pragmatic, diligent and very good at appealing to clients and judges alike.
  • James WalmsleyFast coming up through the ranks as a go-to pensions counsel.
  • Jonathan ChewA great team player with a considerable appetite for work and eye for detail.
  • Thomas Seymour Very thorough and reliable analysis of tricky trust law issues.

Private Client: personal tax

Leading Silks:

  • Brian Green QCVery willing to go that extra mile and makes himself available.
  • Jonathan Davey QC Is a good litigator with a strong sense of strategy.
  • Michael Furness QCProvides incisive, common sense and realistic strategic advice in difficult situations.

Private Client: trusts and probate

Leading Silks: 

  • Brian Green QCHis key strength is his ability to take complex issues and make them digestible – his intellect is truly incredible.
  • Michael Furness QCHugely experienced with exceptional knowledge in the specialist area of contentious trusts.
  • Robert Ham QCHas a superb mind and provides wonderfully clear advice.
  • Clare Stanley QCIs a seasoned trusts litigator with razor-sharp technical ability.
  • Gilead Cooper QCIs the Rolls-Royce silk of the Chancery Bar. He is a master strategist and a star advocate.
  • Jonathan Hilliard QCIs incredibly clever, user-friendly and hardworking.
  • John Martin QCA very experienced silk.
  • Jonathan Davey QCIs a brilliant advocate, excellent with clients, diligent, a leader who will go the extra mile for a client and then some.
  • Tiffany Scott QCBrilliant at condensing complex points with clients – always calm and reliable.

Leading Juniors:

  • Emily CampbellA simply brilliant junior.
  • Judith BryantSuper intelligent and super responsive.
  • Andrew Child Very bright and tenacious.
  • Zoë Barton Has a calm disposition and is able to work with her opponents to achieve a satisfactory conclusion without giving them the upper hand.
  • Andrew MoldGets to the heart of the problem quickly, communicates complex ideas clearly and succinctly, and develops a good rapport with clients.

Professional negligence

Leading Silks:

Leading Juniors:

Property litigation

Leading Silks:

  • Joanne Wicks QCShe has dealt with the most high-profile property disputes.
  • Jonathan Seitler QC  ‘An unbelievable brain which he uses to obtain not only a technical but normally a commercial advantage over the other side.
  • Martin Hutchings QCVery easy to work with, and sound in his judgements and advice.
  • Mark Wonnacott QCA shining light of the property Bar.
  • John Furber QCHis main strength lies in advancing potentially complex arguments in a very clear way.
  • Michael Barnes QC Recommended for landlord and tenant, estoppel and compulsory acquisition.
  • James Ayliffe QCUnderstands the need to bring the client along with him in the direction of his advice.
  • Julian Greenhill QCVery focused, incredibly bright but also very good with clients.
  • Tiffany Scott QCApproachable, knowledgeable, excellent on her feet.

Leading Juniors:

  • Zoë BartonPersuasive in oral and written submissions.
  • Emer MurphyShe is very sharp, efficient and shows an impressive grasp of detail.
  • Charlotte BlackShe has a very strong work ethic, meticulous attention to detail and really good client care skills.
  • Benjamin FaulknerHe is super bright, spots every point going and can tackle absolutely any question.
  • Harriet HolmesHer drafting skills are first class, and her attention to detail is excellent.
  • Jonathan ChewA tenacious advocate.
  • James McCreathClearly destined for great things, a true rising star.