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Leading media chambers One Brick Court to close following ‘unexpected departures’

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It will dissolve on 24 June

barrister wig

One of the country’s leading chambers specialising in media and defamation law is to close later this year, pointing to an imbalance between senior and junior members brought about by a number of “unexpected departures and a retirement.”

In a statement this morning, One Brick Court said that despite its current financial stability, it remained vulnerable to “unplanned events”. The set — headed by Lord Garnier QC, the former solicitor general — will dissolve on 24 June.

The statement continued:

“We have decided to anticipate further potential difficulties in the medium to longer term future by arranging an orderly dissolution over the next three months. We would all have wished to carry on, but have regrettably concluded that this is no longer the responsible course to follow.”

Stressing that all members of chambers have been “united” during this “painful process”, the statement thanked those who have instructed it over the years for their support and understanding. “Meanwhile, we will carry on as normal and continue to accept instructions”, the statement adds.

Shortly after the announcement, fellow London-based media set, 5RB, said seven former One Brick Court tenants had joined its ranks. They are: Andrew Caldecott QC, Jane Phillips, Aidan Eardley, Kate Wilson, Jonathan Scherbel-Ball, Clara Hamer and Ben Gallop. Meanwhile, Doughty Street Chambers confirmed ex-One Brick Court members Heather Rogers QC, Caroline Addy and Claire Overman would be joining the set.

The 2019 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

84 Comments

Anonymous

Do tell

(4)(0)

Anonymous

That would be telling!

(0)(2)

Anonymous

This mug doesn’t know anything. Speculative nonsense.

(4)(2)

Anonymous

I see the LC mods deleted one suggested set pretty quickly

(1)(0)

Anonymous

What does it rhyme with?

Anonymous

What will happen to any future pupils?

(14)(2)

Anonymous

I expect wet beds all round.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

Surely the BSB/Bar Council should have a policy for this?

(8)(2)

Anonymous

Yup- there’s a voucher for £3 off Drynites on the BSB website!

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Yes.

Those who paid the Bar Representation Fee get £5 off adult Pampers

(10)(1)

Bercow

I admonish the honourable gentleman for this chuntering which is made ineloquently and for no obvious benefit or purpose.

The real Bercow

ORDEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!!!

Monseur Bercoup

Hors d’oeuvres!

Herr Berckel

Achtung!

Anonymous

This has the makings of a Jordan Peele film

Anonymous

They’ve missed the Gateway deadline…

(4)(0)

Anonymous

S**t happens. They can apply elsewhere in a year’s time.

(5)(2)

Anonymous

Hardly surprising. There is very little defamation work any more. And few people have wanted to do it, given how lowbrow it is.

(15)(8)

Anonymous

One Brick Court rejectee?

(12)(13)

Anonymous

‘low brow’.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Don’t you have to start libel claims in the High Court?

(10)(0)

Anon

Which is why there is little defamation work to go around – it’s prohibitively expensive for ordinary folk

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Not indicative of a simple area of law though, is it?

David Hughes

Pleadings are tricky and, like any area of law, it has its technicalities – but it isn’t that hard if you put the effort in

Anonymous

There’s plenty of Labour members doing their best on twitter and other online platforms to keep the defamation bar going.

David Hughes

It doesn’t have to be that expensive. One of the issues with defamation is that people have the notion that it has to be done in London. It doesn’t.

Anonymous

Indeed. I heard the other day that Belfast is one of/the most common place to bring defamation suits now as it is so much cheaper. This was anecdotal so not sure on truth, but it does makes sense.

Anonymous

Belfast IS very common.

Anonymous

And full of quite rude angry people. So the defamation angle makes sense:

Anonymous

They didn’t say they were “angry”, that’s just them saying they are “hungry” in a Belfast accent. Easy mistake to make.

Anonymous

But “ordinary folk” are unlikely to have reputations worth engaging civil proceedings for compensation.

Anonymous

(3)(1)

Anonymous

Swedish

(1)(0)

Anon

Salty

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Sea-dog

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Same story at the commercial chancery sets, all the solid commercial work is going to the big name commercial sets and UK chancery work is being kept in house by law firms. Many sets now have to ply their wares in far flung jurisdictions to third rate lawyers that don’t know their arses from their elbows.

(10)(2)

citysolicitor

I agree but I think it depends on the type of set and area of practice. As I understand it, most of the top tier commercial chancery sets e.g. Wilberforce, Maitland, South Square, Erskine are still more remunerative on average than many top commercial sets. That’s partly because they have particular areas of expertise that most commercial sets can’t really touch – such as insolvency disputes, shareholder/company law disputes etc.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

How about XXIV? Top-tier commercial chancery or not?

(0)(1)

Anonymous

They like to think so.

magiccircler

No, although they have some very good tenants. The top tier Chancery sets are Maitland, Wilberforce, Serle Court and South Square and Erskine (the latter two, for company, shareholder, and insolvency disputes).

Anonymous

Many of their more senior members and QCs tend to be former pupils of the top tier chancery sets who never got tenancy in those sets.

Anonymous

4 Stone?

americangirl1975

I think 4 Stone is a very good set. I would say it’s probably a cut above XXIV. However, it’s probably not considered to be one of the five leading commercial chancery sets. It does a lot of company law and insolvency work. However, if you look at the profiles of their tenants, I’d say the quality is usually lower than say tenants at Erskine or South Square.

Anonymous

The quality at 24 Old Buildings, Erskine and South Sq, especially at the junior end of Chambers, is the same. This is because there are a number of non Oxbridge people at the junior end of each set. You do not find people like that at the junior end of the best Chambers, for obvious reasons.

Anonymous

I think the quality of work is different. To be clear, XXIV is a good set. However they are rarely used be City firms. Certainly, much less so than say, South Square or Erskine. My post was unclear, I was discussing 4 stone

Anonymous

Anonymous

Similar level as Enterprise, Hardwicke, Radcliffe and the Stone Buildings sets, though pay their pupils a bit more money.

Anonymous

Similar level to Enterprise and Hardwicke!? XXIV is a class above.

Anonymous

Hardwicke and Enterprise are better value for money.

Anonymous

Representation from a FRU student at an employment tribunal is better value for money than a barrister from 11KBW, but I know where I’d go.

Anonymous

They recently recruited from Hardwicke so they must do the same sort of work Hardwicke.

Anonymous

Chancery average

Anonymous

True. Marketing to, and working with, all those failed lawyers in offshore jurisdictions.

(2)(4)

citysolicitor

All sets including commercial sets work offshore. For example, either OEC/Fountain C has a Singapore office. It’s anecdotal of-course, but in my large litigation team (US law firm, Band 2 C&P) we use the sets I mentioned at least as much as EC/Fountain C. Erskine/South Square are probably our most frequently instructed sets.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Yes, but MC and successful Chancery sets work predominantly on domestic matters or international cases in onshore jurisdictions. Only failing sets have got to branch into offshore work – which is essentially county court stuff, being briefed by failed London lawyers.

citysolicitor

I am pretty sure you don’t have a clue what you’re talking about. By any measure, Wilberforce/South Square/Erskine etc would be considered very successful Chancery sets. You should do your homework.

Anonymous

As a barrister at a leading Chancery chambers, I can confirm that anonymous, Mar 21 2019 11:07am, is right. Top sets rely in the main on instructions from onshore firms, be they in the UK or elsewhere. Offshore work is less substantively challenging (it really is like appearing in the County Court or at best a district registry of the CC) and therefore less prestigious – and you are instructed by and large by far less able lawyers. All this, coupled with the fact that offshore work pays the same as onshore work, makes it generally less worthwhile to do.

citysolicitor

I agree with your post but I was objecting to the previous comments where the poster suggested top commercial chancery sets were reduced to working almost entirely offshore which is clearly incorrect. I agree that some middling commercial chancery sets may well work mostly offshore.

Anonymous

As a barrister at a leading chancery set who does some offshore work but mostly onshore, all traditional, I can confirm that this is complete and utter cobblers.

Anonymous

You are taking nonsense. The higher end offshore work usually engages the very best firms in London and New York and the rates are usually materially higher than the vast majority of onshore commercial work. You need better clerks. Or a better practice.

Anonymous

1.44pm, you need better clerks. Or a better practice. The higher end offshore work usually involves the best London or New York firms and the rates paid are higher than the vast majority of London commercial work. I creamed in a fortune from a couple of offshore cases last year.

Anonymous

As an offshore lawyer at a multi-jurisdictional offshore firm I can confirm that it is the case, on the whole, that very successful barristers tend not to do offshore work. Offshore firms have great difficulty in getting magic circle or leading commercial chancery set QCs to take briefs. The time differences, travel commitments, absence from the UK and other general interruptions that come along with doing offshore court work make it very unattractive to fully employed barristers with successful London practices. There are QCs who have carved out a name for themselves offshore, however, many of them are unknown or not used very often in the London market. Often, the best that offshore lawyers can instruct are Senior London silks who are in their 60s and whose UK practices have already dwindled as their contemporary solicitor counterparts who were successful in practice and who used to instruct them have all retired. These kinds of barristers are usually ready to accept the inconveniences that offshore work and travel necessitates. It keeps their practices going, enables them to stay in chambers/keeps chambers afloat and gives them a steady income stream, albeit that the work is very often second or third class.

Anonymous

As a barrister at a leading Chancery chambers, I can confirm that anonymous, Mar 21 2019 11:07am, is right. Top sets rely in the main on instructions from onshore firms, be they in the UK or elsewhere. Offshore work is less substantively challenging (it really is like appearing in the County Court or at best a district registry of the CC) and therefore less prestigious – and you are instructed by and large by far less able lawyers. All this, coupled with the fact that offshore work pays the same as onshore work, makes it generally less worthwhile to do.

Anonymous

Anonymous, Mar 21 2019 4:03pm and Anonymous Mar 22 2019 10.03am are clearly not members of the Bar. True it is that most offshore instructions come to the Bar through onshore firms (as offshore jurisdictions are postboxes, where none of the commercial activity in issue takes place), barristers work more closely with the offshore firm, as they have the knowledge of the local laws and procedures, plus (importantly) it is very difficult (if not impossible) for onshore firms to recover their costs of attending at trial (this is the position in Cayman and BVI), so you most often go to court with your offshore attorneys only.

Anonymous

10.58am, every time I went away to court offshore in the last couple of years there were London or New York lawyers with me on the trip. For the higher end cases the recoverability of costs is not a factor that affects strategy. The local laws and procedures are not that complicated and the onshore firms do the vast majority of the work on the heavy cases. The comments you criticise are themselves quite accurate in my experience.

Anonymous

I do a fair amount of offshore work (insolvency and shareholder disputes) at a Chancery set. Last year, I was in the BVI Commercial Court 3 times and once in the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. Not once did my onshore firms attend and I went with my offshore attorneys only; I was also in Cayman twice and, again, attended only with my offshore firm. This year, I have been to Cayman once and attended with my offshore attorneys only. I am scheduled to be there again in the summer and my onshore firm do not intend to be present. This experience matches what has happened over the last few years. It is true to say that, 3 years’ ago, I did one trial in Cayman when my instructing City firm were also in attendance, but this was very much the exception, as I have explained. The reason for this is indeed the general irrecoverability of costs for onshore lawyers, following the general practice in BVI and a decision in Cayman of Foster J. I have checked with other members of chambers who do offshore work and their experience entirely chimes with mine: you liaise far more closely with your offshore attorneys than with the onshore team in terms of strategy and case preparation, and rarely attend court with your onshore lawyers.

Anonymous

You must be a QC? Junior members of the English bar do not have rights of audience and are not permitted to appear in Cayman.

Anonymous

I suppose it is how you handle cases and where the instructions come from. I have only done one without the onshore firm being present and have done a good few of them. Might depend where the instruction comes from, onshore or offshore as to who calls the shots.

Anonymous

This little discussion is probably ships in the night stuff. The relatively common shareholder/insolvency work offshore is less technical in terms of general law, more local law intensive and often costs sensitive. The first poster seems to do that work from her/his description. The other commenter is probably doing the more commercial work. That is less prevalent but tends to involve more general commercial litigation issues which is more common law and engages fewer standardised procedural issues of offshore law. The onshore firms, and the better fee rates, tend to be in the second category of case, though it is less of a volume business. PS I have done both, so I’m not taking sides, mainly because there is not a “side to take”.

Anonymous

“Failed London lawyers”? Believe me you’re lucky if you’re offshore instructing attorney is one of those, he or she is much more likely to be a failed Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Belfast, Dublin, Aussie or kiwi lawyer!

Anonymous

*your*

Anonymous

Anonymous

I’d have an idea uncontrollable temper too if I were a Withers has been.

Anonymous

Even Offshore lawyers can tell which London barristers and chambers are below par. The only reason to use them is they are much cheaper than the magic circle sets. Some middling chambers invariably do f up a case when they come up against anyone decent from the magic circle sets but when they are against most other offshore lawyers they are able to hold their own.

(2)(4)

Anonymous

Those who can do, those who can’t do offshore …

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Hahahahaha I thought BRICK COURT was closing

No more fat CJEU briefs for you

No deal

(15)(5)

Anonymous

Not in Chancery: Wilberforce, Maitland, Radcliffe, Serle, XXIV, 5SB all booming. New Square has recruited enough people from crap sets to keep going, Enterprise has stabilised, 9SB and Threestone look ok.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

I am an experienced, older barrister who specialises in inexperienced, younger barristers.

(15)(0)

Anonymous

And you think you deserve a medal? There’s hundreds of us like that, try to be a bit more risque.

(9)(0)

Anonymous

I am an experienced, older, submissive barrister who specialises in inexperienced, younger barristers.

Does that do?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

Is it you what’s going on about the adult nappies, ante?

Explains a lot…

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Seeking interim injunctive relief on a without notice basis?

(5)(0)

Anonymous

I do like a good restraining, but some notice is preferred, as the anticipation is half the fun.

Anonymous

Meet you in the Chancery section at Lincoln’s Inn library

(1)(0)

Comments are closed.

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