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Emer Murphy

Call: 2009   

+44 (0)20 7306 0102emurphy@wilberforce.co.uk

Practice Overview

“Simply the best junior we have used.” – Chambers and Partners 2020

Emer’s practice focuses on property, commercial and trust disputes. She also advises on related professional liability matters.

Emer offers intelligent, thorough and practical assistance. She prides herself on being user-friendly and approachable, and she enjoys working as part of the team.

As an advocate, Emer is both engaging and tenacious. Emer regularly appears in the High Court, the County Court and before a variety of tribunals, both on her own account and as a junior.

She is highly skilled in drafting and advisory work, and has worked on a significant number of high-profile, complex pieces of litigation.

What the directories say

Emer is ranked as a Leading Junior in Chambers Global 2020 (Chancery Commercial), Chambers & Partners 2020 (in the Chancery: Commercial and Real Estate Litigation fields) and The Legal 500 2020 (Property Litigation and Professional Negligence fields). Those publications describe her in the following terms:

  • “She works exceptionally hard, is a real team player in trial preparations and is methodical in her approach”;
  • “Simply the best junior we have used. Her attention to detail and knowledge of the papers was frankly astounding and her work on a complex and lengthy set of closings in a very short space of time was highly impressive. She really assisted in driving the case along”;
  • “She never gives up”;
  • “Very bright, hard-working and user-friendly – a future star of the Bar”;
  • “Very thorough and detailed in her advice”;
  • “She is very sharp, efficient and shows an impressive grasp of detail”.

In previous years, the legal directories have described Emer as follows: ‘she has a phenomenal work rate’; ‘a bright, sparky junior who’s like a dog with a bone; she will argue with great tenacity’; ‘unflappable’; ‘feisty and clever – a rising star’; ‘one of the top juniors at the Chancery Bar…her attention to detail and rigorous analysis [are] particularly good’; ‘brilliant’; ‘hardworking with an excellent grasp of detail’, ‘a tenacious advocate and a star of the future’; ‘a very good brain’; ‘a thinker and a doer’; ‘commercially minded’; ‘very persuasive’; ‘very good drafting skills’; ‘piercing intelligence, very bright, helpful and practical’; and as having impressed clients with ‘the speed with which she digested the materials’.

Emer was a Legal Week Star at the Bar 2014: ‘Intelligence, tenacity and commercial acumen are just three of the reasons Wilberforce Chambers’ Emer Murphy is regarded as a star at the Bar.’

Recent cases

Canary Wharf (BP4) T1 Limited & Others v The European Medicines Agency (2019)

  • Acting as a junior to Jonathan Seitler QC and working alongside Tom de la Mare QC and James Segan QC of Blackstone Chambers, Emer represented the European Medicines Agency in this high-profile case (one of The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases of 2019 and the Estate Gazette’s top property law case of 2019).
  • The Agency argued that its 25-year lease of large premises in the Canary Wharf Estate would be frustrated by Brexit. The income stream from the lease was said to be worth around £500m to Canary Wharf.
  • The trial took place over nine days in January 2019 before Mr Justice Marcus Smith, who found in favour of Canary Wharf but granted the Agency permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The case settled shortly thereafter.
  • Canary Wharf was represented by Joanne Wicks QC and Jonathan Chew, also of Wilberforce Chambers.

11-13 Randolph Crescent Limited v Dr Duval (2019)

  • Led by Joanne Wicks QC in this Supreme Court case, Emer acted for the landlord of a block of expensive flats in Little Venice, London.
  • One tenant wanted to carry out renovations to her flat involving cutting into the walls contrary to the terms of her lease, and so sought permission from the landlord.
  • Another tenant objected and argued that the landlord could not permit the works, as to do so would prevent the landlord from complying with its covenant to enforce (on request) the covenants in the other tenants’ leases. The Court of Appeal agreed with the objecting tenant.
  • Such covenants are found frequently in leases of residential blocks of flats and the Court of Appeal’s reasoning has potentially wide ramifications for landlords.
  • The Supreme Court handed down judgment in May 2020 upholding the Court of Appeal decision.

Clutterbuck v Cleghorn [2015] EWHC 2558 (Ch), [2017] EWCA Civ 137, [2018] EWHC 2125 (Ch)

  • Emer represented the estate of a deceased businessman who was alleged to have been involved in various property joint ventures relating to exclusive properties in West London. The claimants claimed millions of pounds in damages for various alleged breaches of contract and misrepresentations.
  • This case followed the explosive Clutterbuck v Al Amoudi case brought by the same claimants, in which similar allegations against Sarah Al Amoudi (dubbed ‘the Vamp in the Veil’ by the Daily Mail) were successfully defended by Emer Murphy and Jonathan Seitler QC in both the High Court and the Court of Appeal.
  • In this case, the defendant’s legal team (including Emer and Jonathan Seitler QC) had the majority of the claim struck out as an abuse of process relying on the principle in Aldi Stores [2008] 1 WLR 748, as the claimants had failed to bring their claim with other similar claims against Ms Al Amoudi. The Court of Appeal upheld the striking out of the majority of the claimants’ case in March 2017.
  • A three-week trial of the remaining elements of the claimants’ claim took place in the High Court in June 2018, and raised issues of fraudulent misrepresentation, contractual interpretation, estoppel by convention and proof of loss. Jonathan Seitler QC and Emer again emerged victorious, and the claimants’ claims were dismissed in their entirety.

Twin Benefits Ltd v Barker (2017); Barker v Confiànce [2018] EWHC 2965 (Ch), [2019] EWHC 1401 (Ch)

  • This dispute relates to a settlement, approved by the High Court in 2014, which involved unwinding a multi-million-pound offshore trust.
  • Emer acted for professional trustee company Confiànce, in defending the claim that it failed to ensure a sufficiently good deal was secured for the potential beneficiaries of the (now unwound) trust.
  • Acting on her own account, Emer represented Confiànce in its successful application for security for costs. The case against Confiànce was struck out following the claimants’ failure to provide the ordered security.
  • The potential beneficiaries then sought to revive the original High Court proceedings and to argue that they should not be bound by the court-approved deal.
  • Led by Elspeth Talbot Rice QC, XXIV Old Buildings, Emer acted for Confiànce in successfully resisting the potential beneficiaries’ application.

Confidential (2018)

  • This dispute concerned a complex joint venture-style agreement between a landowner and a developer, in relation to a prominent development site in London.
  • Valuable planning permission was achieved for high-rise development on the site, and the land was sold with the benefit of this planning permission for more than £100m.
  • The landowner and developer then disagreed as to how the profit arising from this sale should be split, with the parties divided in various respects as to the proper interpretation of the complex (and repeatedly varied) agreement between them.
  • The case settled in 2018 following a successful mediation.
  • Emer acted as junior to Jonathan Seitler QC.