A set that is “excellent at what it does,” 4 Stone Buildings enjoys an extremely strong reputation in the marketplace for handling high-stakes commercial chancery litigation, and has a particular focus on corporate work. “The set’s knowledge of company law is highly impressive,” according to sources, who praise it for having some exceptional silks as well as a cadre of top-flight juniors who are regularly instructed in the highest-value and most complicated commercial disputes. One recent case highlight was Ecclestone v HMRC, which concerned the potential unwinding of a tax settlement thought to be worth GBP1 billion. Other notable matters from the last year include Vincent Tchenguiz v Grant Thornton, Kaupthing & Ors; Peak Hotels and Resorts v Tarek Investments and Autonomy Corporation v Dr Michael Lynch.
Senior clerk David Goddard is “very good to deal with” and runs an efficient, traditional clerksroom whose members “go the extra mile when necessary.” “The clerks always seem to know exactly what people’s workloads are like.”
George Bompas QC
An exceptionally intelligent barrister, with particular expertise in company and financial matters. Sources agree that his paperwork and technical abilities are especially impressive, but also compliment him for his hard work and fast turnaround times.
Strengths: “His written work is among the best at the Bar. If you want a convincing, persuasive opinion, he’s definitely your man.” “He’s technically a brilliant lawyer. When it comes to getting to the bottom of very knotty problems and incredibly complex sets of documents, George is your man.”
Recent work: Successfully acted for MF Global UK Services Limited in the Court of Appeal on the question of whether a services company is entitled to be indemnified by an operating company for pension fund liabilities.
John Brisby QC
A well-liked and highly experienced silk, whose forthright advocacy is particularly admired. He acts in a spread of valuable and high-profile commercial chancery matters, both inside and outside the UK.
Strengths: “He’s a really tough trial lawyer who has huge amounts of trial experience. You need that if you want to regularly fight big-ticket cases. Go to him if you have a big-money case with complex legal points.”
Recent work: Involved in the bankruptcy proceedings of property investor Glenn Maud. This was among the most valuable bankruptcy cases ever heard in the UK.
Jonathan Crow QC
An outstanding advocate with an extremely broad practice, who is a regular in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Interviewees praise him for his combination of intellectual ability and charm, and say he has a “fluent, persuasive advocacy style.”
Strengths: “He’s just absolutely brilliant. Listening to him in court is a total education.” “He has the ability to articulate the most complicated cases into a clear and succinct set of principles.”
Robert Miles QC
A universally admired silk who blends technical strength with elegant advocacy. Miles is noted for the tactical input and judgement he brings to a case, and is involved in some of the best cases at the Chancery Bar.
Strengths: “He’s everything you’d want from an advocate. Very measured and very calm. He’s not going to be ruffled by a difficult question or a witness going off-piste.” “A technical, black letter lawyer, who is excellent when it comes to the interpretation of contracts the size of a phone book.”
Recent work: Instructed on behalf of Dr Michael Lynch in litigation brought against him by HP arising out of his former position as CEO of Autonomy Corporation. The case is thought to be the largest ever brought against an individual in Britain.
Richard Hill QC
Acts in a range of top-flight commercial chancery matters, including shareholder disputes, financial services cases and civil fraud matters. He is praised for being a strong advocate, as well as a thoughtful and calm lawyer.
Strengths: “He’s great on his feet and has a good sense of what the court will and won’t stomach. Tactically, he knows how to play things.” “He’s very strong on company insolvency and civil fraud work, and works hard for his clients.”
Recent work: Instructed in a claim against a number of banks, including RBS, based on allegations of illegal Euribor manipulation.
A calm advocate with a particular skill in handling shareholders’ disputes. Solicitors say he is thorough in his approach and a user-friendly team member.
Strengths: “He’s extremely responsive, extremely personable, very pleasant and easy to work with. He’s somebody who values your case and will put in the work to get familiar with it.” “A cogent and persuasive advocate. He’s very thorough, and you can be sure he’s covered all the points.”
A senior junior with a broad commercial chancery practice that takes in insolvency and fraud cases. He is praised as an efficient and capable advocate, who has the ability to move a case along.
Strengths: “An astute advocate, who’s tough without being over-aggressive, he can be quite a difficult opponent, but not inappropriately so.” “He cuts through a lot of the issues and makes progress in a case quickly.”
A well-respected senior junior with a strong corporate dispute practice. He is a straightforward and helpful barrister praised for approaching his cases with a very high level of attention to detail.
Strengths: “Offers well-thought-out advice, which is both strongly analytical and commercially focused.” “Everything feels under control with Hermann; he’s a very reassuring presence. Although he’s not a flashy advocate, he’s a determined advocate and has a good gauge of how to approach issues in terms of winning favour with judges.”
Andrew de Mestre
A well-liked senior junior with a broad practice, who acts with high-profile QCs on significant pieces of litigation. As well as his technical ability and talent as an advocate, sources highlight his excellent client relations and ability to work as part of a team.
Strengths: “A really clever guy, who is brilliant with clients.” “He’s all the things you’d expect of a good senior junior – he’s clever, good in court, a good team player and a charming man.”
Recent work: Instructed alongside Robert Miles QC by a leading hedge fund manager to defend an extremely high-value claim brought by the liquidators of the Hellas telecommunications group.
A widely praised junior who has appeared in some of the most significant recent cases. He is noted for being “unflappable” and for being “a good multitasker.”
Strengths: “A very efficient and quick writer, which is especially impressive given the quality of the work he produces. He consistently demonstrates really excellent strategic judgement, and is easy and fun to deal with.” “Bright, extremely hard-working, and very personable.”
Recent work: Advised on Guernsey litigation worth over USD1 billion. The case involved allegations of breach of fiduciary duty arising out of the 2008 financial crisis.
A former derivatives trader who brings his inside knowledge of the workings of the City to bear on some of the most sophisticated commercial chancery cases. He frequently works on substantial cases requiring large teams, either managing other juniors or as the senior junior among silks.
Strengths: “In our case, he knew the ins and outs of that financial product better than anybody else on the legal team – better than the clients, and perhaps as well as the expert did. His ability to understand that was phenomenal.” “Apart from the fact that he’s adorable and really pleasant, he’s really hard-working and he’s very, very good analytically.”
Recent work: Senior junior of a team led by Mark Phillips QC, acting in relation to litigation arising out of the collapse of Icelandic bank Kaupthing. The case included claims for fraudulent trading and conspiracy among others.
Wins praise from instructing solicitors and other barristers as a strong “all-rounder.” His work focuses particularly on shareholder disputes and insolvency cases.
Strengths: “Has a first-rate brain, and is noted for the quality of both his work and his analysis.” “A pleasure to work with, he is very capable and takes a sensible and careful approach to difficult matters.”
Recent work: Led by Robert Miles QC and Jeremy Goldring QC, he defended the Icelandic bank Kaupthing against claims for conspiracy and malicious prosecution brought by the brothers Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz.