13 Members of Chambers are ranked in the Chambers & Partners HNW Guide 2018
From the HNW guide (2018)
Serle Court (Band 1)
Serle Court is acknowledged as "an excellent set for traditional chancery work" and is lauded for having "lots of big names who you always see on big international disputes." The set is well-known for its its private client work and has a particular strength in cross-border matters. "They are my go-to set for contentious trusts and offshore work," says one source. "They are particulary commercial but maintain strong private client work," says an interviewee, adding: "The list of silks shows real strength and depth and their ability to attract good barristers."
Commentators highlight the level of service the set can provide. "The clerking is excellent. They are very organised and efficient," remarks one lawyer. Another interviewee comments: "They are very slick. The clerks and the whole administrative support network is a really well-run operation. They have a commercial and modern feel." John Petrie is the set's chief executive and Steve Whitaker is head clerk.
William Henderson has long-standing experience in traditional chancery matters and often acts for wealthy individuals, trust companies and HMRC. "He is a real star," enthuses one peer. Another source observes: "His knowledge base is incredible and he is also a very strong advocate, especially when you have some real tough litigation." An interviewee reports: "He is very much a lawyer's lawyer. He has a mastery over case law and knows all the facts meticulously. He can analyse and dissect case law with immense thoroughness and skill." Henderson is also widely acknowledged by sources for his charity law expertise, with one interviewee describing him as "a legend in charity matters." Another market commentator adds: "He's counsel to the Treasury on charity matters and is very solid and analytical. He has his feet on the ground and is a very sensible chap that you want advising you."
Constance McDonnell is "a master of her field" and "one of the best in the business." She regularly handles contentious trust and probate disputes, and is a "go-to person for 1975 Act claims." "She's very decisive and has a great manner with the clients," says a source, adding: "She is one of the most knowledgable barristers for proprietary estoppel and mutual wills, though she can also advise on a very broad scope of matters." Another commentator states: "She is absolutely the best junior I have ever seen, hands down. She absolutely delivered on my own and my client's expectations. She was extraordinarily good."
Alan Boyle QC is "a giant in the field" who is "one of the most senior and respected silks at the Bar." He is head of chambers and has extensive experience in complex traditional chancery disputes. "He has an enormous presence and is a respected figure who carries real authority," observes one peer, who continues: "He is highly experienced and immensely authoritative. He has a formidable courtroom presence." Another source reports: "He knows how to utilise strategy and he really inspires confidence in solicitors and clients. His expertise in traditional chancery matters is fantastic, but he also maintains a really commercial outlook." Interviewees further describe him as "a heavyweight" who has "a good feel for advocacy and is supremely talented in the courtroom."
James Brightwell has extensive experience in trust disputes, especially in offshore jurisdictions. One interviewee says that "he is a top-level practitioner," and another source adds that he is "probably one of the leading trust lawyers in London." His high level of client service is praised by sources. "He has an absolutely fantastic manner with clients," says an interviewee, who adds: "He can always see the big picture and really gains the trust and confidence of clients. He explains things very clearly to them and is really fantastic." Another commentator observes: "He is very measured and very bright. You will be reassured to know that he is on your side. He is very user-friendly and can turn things around quickly when required."
Frank Hinks QC deals with a wide array of contentious trust litigation and has considerable experience of cross-border disputes and offshore matters. "He is a long-standing practitioner with a stellar reputation. He comes very highly recommended in this market and will have academic-level knowledge of the law," remarks an interviewee. Sources further laud him as "a wonderful silk" who has "a very prolific offshore practice and is involved in some very, very big cases." He also deals with real estate, partnership and charity matters. "Frank is particulary adept at being solution-oriented," says a source, adding: "He is excellent at drafting and producing a very, very good work product that benefits the team. He takes the lead on drafting and his work is outstanding."
Various sources highlight Giles Richardson for his experience in a wide range of chancery disputes and his specific expertise in offshore matters and financial remedy cases. One source observes: "He is incredibly dedicated and not only is he very good at what he does, there is also a very easy working relationship with him which makes dealing with tricky offshore litigation much easier." Another commentator remarks: "He is very responsive and the sort of barrister you definitely want as part of your team. He is very good in high pressured situations and understands the pressure of modern ligation." An offshore expert further enthuses: "He is particularly commercial and strategic in his thinking. He has good tactical nous and can see the big picture."
A market source observes that Dakis Hagen QC is "an excellent silk who will go far in this area." He deals with various chancery matters and has in-depth experience of major trust disputes. "He is incredibly bright and ticks all the boxes," enthuses one interviewee, who adds that "he will go from strength to strength as a QC." Another commentator states: "He is very user-friendly and very alert to investigating new lines of analysis. He is always open-minded to approach cases in creative ways - you can find the right answer when working with him." Sources also praise him for his international expertise. An interviewee says: "He will have a serious trusts practice and be involved in heavyweight offshore work."
Elizabeth Jones QC is an experienced barrister who is recognised as "a famously tenacious opponent." She deals with contentious trust and probate matters and also has expertise in offshore disputes. One solicitor enthuses: "She is a brilliant mind with a remarkable ability to untangle very complex situations and timelines in order to work out what has gone on." The same source says: "She is very good with both clients and judges." Her advocacy skills are highlighted and she is praised for "making sharp arguments and always being on the ball." An interviewee observes that "she is formidable in court and excellent at mediation as well."
Richard Wilson QC is "a fearless litigator whose strategic thinking is very advanced." He advises on a wide array of chancery matters and is acknowledged for his extensive experience in international trusts disputes. "He is just an excellent all-round barrister," says one solicitor, while another source explains: "He is very rapidly making a name for himself as a serious player. He is one of the leading people in this area and a big name in the offshore world." Sources praise his legal skills and note that "he is excellent at lateral thinking" and is "exceptional on his feet." An interviewee reports: "He is fantastically committed to his cases and is really engaged with them. He is always available to assist throughout the process and is also technically excellent."
John Machell QC "is very good at both traditional and commercial matters" and is "popular with instructing solicitors." He advises on a broad range of chancery matters and is recognised as "a brilliant advocate and great performer in court." A source reports: "He deals with matters in a very practical way and his work is outstanding. He deals with things superbly quickly and breaks down incredibly complicated and difficult legal concepts in a way that even the lay client can understand." His specialist expertise is noted by interviewees. "He's brilliant at private client matters, especially when there is a partnership element," remarks a source, who adds: "His real forte is private client issues with underlying partnership matters."
James Weale enters the rankings for the first time this year and is recognised as "a real star of the future." He has significant trusts experience and also deals with Inheritance Act and probate claims. "He is very user-friendly and on top of the details," reports one instructing solicitor, while another lawyer observes: "He has the ability to assimilate the facts and fashion a strong strategy going forward. He is very impressive." A peer further enthuses: "He is incredibly industrious, very clever and he will go far."
Emma Hargreaves focuses on domestic and offshore trust ligation. A source says: "She is really going to be a star and is wise beyond her years." Another lawyer comments: "She can do work that you expect only a more experienced junior could handle." Hargreaves is "really good on the technical side" and is praised for being "incredibly bright and really organised." A market source enthuses: "She is one of the most reliable and efficient barristers. She is always very well prepared and brings a very hands-on approach."