12 Kings Bench Walk is one of the best chambers for civil law in London. Covering the usual suite of personal injury, industrial disease, clinical negligence and employment law, the set also has strength in product liability and travel.
The set has a long history, having been founded in the 19th century as a broad common law practice. The modern 12KBW came into being in 1990. It also has premises at 13 King’s Bench Walk and the Mitre Court Buildings.
12KBW has a total of 87 barristers. At the top of the members list, there are 11 silks, all of whom are male. Going down the seniority list, two thirds of the 50 most senior juniors are male. Amongst pupils and junior barristers with fewer than 10 years call, the gender balance is 57% male, 43% female.
Like most sets, barristers at 12 King’s Bench Walk can expect to work between 50 to 59 hours a week. For the most part, this workload throws up some fascinating cases. For example, one of its barristers, Tim Petts, successfully managed to defend a claim against a district council that was brought by a pedestrian who suffered life-spinal changes after falling while severely drunk. In another case the same barrister worked on, a student alleged psychological harm after being told of by a secondary school teacher and was seeking damages. In both cases, the event and litigation took place outside the capital, demonstrating 12KBW’s national reputation.
Reflecting 12KBW’s capability in personal injury, the set runs conferences on topics such as spinal injuries and asbestos. One of its members, Steven Snowden QC, was recently elected as vice chair of PIBA, the Personal Injuries Bar Association. This work seldom has an international component, but one junior tells us that they “once did a case on the Isle of Man”.
There is an excellent social life at the chambers. Indeed, insiders tell us that it can be very lively. Other interactions with colleagues were mostly good. Facilities at 12KBW are decent, but not outstanding. While a couple of rooms do benefit from views overlooking Temple Gardens and the River Thames, the overall décor is apparently so-so. However, IT support at the set is a strong point and gets “10/10” from one tipster.
Moving onto pupillages at 12KBW. The set offers between up to 4 pupillages each year, and the training offered is very good. Rookies rotate between three or four supervisors throughout the year. Towards the end of the first six months, pupils shadow more senior members of chambers in court. This allows pupils to take on their own cases in the second six months, ensuring that they gain significantly more advocacy experience then at other sets.
Over the last five years, 12KBW has taken on 15 pupils, 13 of whom studied at either Oxford or Cambridge.