Garden Court Counsel Ranked Leaders at the Bar - Chambers and Partners 2009

Monday 1 December 2008

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Band 3: Administrative & Public Law

The largest housing set in the country, Garden Court Chambers also handles a range of immigration, criminal, and administrative and public law matters. It is "very customer service-focused, fast and forward in its thinking," say clients, who also appreciate the set's "model approach to the law." Barristers here are "committed and bright, evincing a genuine interest in their cases." Jan Luba QC is a housing specialist who is engaged in administrative and public law cases in the housing context. He offers "clear comprehensive and prompt advice that is easy to follow." Leading junior Stephen Knafler is popular with clients and peers, who find him "legally rigorous but able to put his cases in a moderate, non-inflammatory way." He is particularly well respected in the Administrative Court, where judges respect him and are reported to adopt his skeletons in arguments. Clients appreciate his "clear, practical advice and fast turnaround," describing him as "incredibly hard-working and efficient under pressure."Stephanie Harrison is a "strong and persuasive" advocate who "has an excellent grasp of the issues and an ability to cut to the chase." She is recommended for child-related issues and matters arising out of the immigration system. New entry Stephen Simblet is "a very collaborative lawyer with a formidable knowledge of common law." He focuses on civil claims against the police and public authorities, inquests, mental health, public law and judicial review.

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Band 2: Civil Liberties

"Committed and hard-working counsel" produce consistently excellent work at a set that has been involved in civil liberties work as long as any. Indeed, this set can truly be said to be something of a fountainhead, having produced many excellent barristers over the years who have then gone on to form strong human rights teams in other sets. Amongst its current crop, Stephen Knafler is "clearly a leading lawyer in health and community care issues." He is praised for his "excellent, comprehensive knowledge." Stephanie Harrison is active in discrimination disputes and has shown herself to be particularly well informed on age discrimination. She is a "highly organised practitioner," as is Mark Muller QC, who "works phenomenally hard and is able to take account of the political and legal sides of an argument." This political awareness is particularly relevant as he has handled several terrorism-related cases.Kathryn Cronin acts on immigration and family-related work, and has been involved with cases related to human trafficking, whileDexter Dias has established an excellent reputation for inquest work. Dias is known for his "unwillingness to lay down and die until he's expended every last ounce of effort."Nadine Finch is "steely in her resolve but wonderfully sensitive to the client." She is focused on children's rights, immigration, family law and community care law, and is also known for her work for victims of human trafficking. Specialising in terrorism and issues related to national security,Edward Grieves has appeared in a number of domestic and international cases. He was involved with the appeal to the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission against the Secretary of State's refusal to deproscribe the PMOI, which had been listed as a terrorist organisation under the Terrorism Act 2000. The "open and reasonable" Stephen Simblet is building up a strong practice acting on inquests, actions against the police and mental health-related cases. He has appeared in significant cases concerning the extent of the right to protest under Articles 10 and 11 of the ECHR. Also recommended is Leslie Thomas: "It is a pleasure to watch him in front of a jury," say solicitors, as "he is persistent and tenacious." His practice is focused on actions against the police and inquest work.

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Band 2: Crime

This set continues to expand, and now boasts well over 100 tenants. "A modern set of criminal chambers with an efficient and determined set of barristers and clerks," Garden Court "fully understands and tirelessly seeks to satisfy the needs of its clients." Courtenay Griffiths QC is "a class act who is always very dedicated and hands-on." He recently acted in R v Nasri, Leslie, Jones and Emmanuel, a case concerning the murder of a female Special Constable. Having specialised in criminal defence work for the duration of his career at the Bar, Henry Blaxland QC is "intellectually in a different universe, as well as being impressively diligent and hard-working." His gravitas is valued, and solicitors comment that "when he opens his mouth, the judge listens." He recently acted for the first defendant in a multi-handed conspiracy to murder and rape, in which the evidence centred around Internet chat room dialogues.Judy Khan is praised for her "remarkable intellectual ability - she comes up with points that you just wouldn't think of." She defends in all areas of criminal law, but has a particular specialism in acting for young offenders: she was junior counsel for the youngest defendant in living memory to face trial for murder at the Central Criminal Court.

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At Garden Court Chambers, Jo Delahunty QC applies a "relaxed, straightforward and no-nonsense" attitude to her work and can often be seen acting in complex care proceedings. Maggie Jones has a similar practice regularly representing parents, children and guardians. "A woman of principle," she is described as a "passionate barrister who always goes the extra mile for her clients." Others praise her skills in the courtroom: "She can win cases that appear otherwise lost."

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Band 1: Immigration

Garden Court Chambers' pre-eminence in immigration is anchored in its unparalleled strength in depth. That it has sixteen ranked members in Chambers' tables attests to its impressive roster of "great people at all levels," who together ensure that the set is seen as "by far and away the leader in immigration." It offers the full spectrum of immigration expertise, with practitioners covering everything from initial immigration adjudications right through to matters before the ECJ and the ECHR. A much-vaunted move to new premises in recent years has enabled the set to continue its steady growth without compromising its reputation for "constant availability and the provision of sound advice at short notice." Universal quality is one of the factors which sources note, but individual brilliance is another: Laurie Fransman QC is perhaps the most impressive lawyer in that respect. Sources describe Fransman as a "veritable font of knowledge," variously labelling him "the guru" or "the god of nationality law." He is primarily celebrated for his expertise in nationality issues, although this forms just one thread of a practice that takes in all manner of complex immigration and asylum cases in both the UK and European courts. As one source explained, "he remains a truly brilliant and well-recognised expert across the board - he's first choice for anything relating to immigration." Ian Macdonald QC's tremendous reputation for work across the immigration and race relations sector is assured not only through his efforts in court, but also by dint of the fact that he authored the leading textbook on immigration. His personable approach is valued by sources, who comment that his "affable, outside the box style endears him to peers and clients alike." Macdonald's varied practice covers the full gamut of immigration advice and representation, from defending alleged terrorists to advising sporting bodies on the procurement of overseas staff. Nicola Rogers is hailed by sources as "the leading junior European law practitioner." A recognised expert in the field, "she has at her fingertips chapter and verse on the European law element of any case." Rogers advises on all instances where immigration and European law collide, and has cemented her standing in the market through a wealth of ECJ appearances. A lawyer with "unquestionably excellent knowledge," she combines this with "impressive service levels" to make her one of the most sought-after juniors around. Also much in demand, Rick Scannell has a practice that covers the full range of immigration and asylum advice, but is particularly strong on refugee and human rights issues. Solicitors enjoy working with him due to his "commitment and hard work." Commentators praise Duran Seddon for his "cost-effective and commercial advice." Noted for his track record in immigration, asylum and human rights cases, as well as EU free-movement rights matters, his winning combination of pragmatism and pure expertise leaves him "definitely a cut above many of his peers." Frances Webber's deft client touch was remarked upon with some frequency, with sources praising her aptitude for handling sensitive matters. She is particularly recommended for trafficking cases or those involving children. Kathryn Cronin has a similar sphere of influence and is hailed as someone who offers "a great combination of childcare and immigration expertise." Commentators note her increasing prominence in the field, remarking on her ability to vary her approach so she "can be tough where necessary, whilst always remaining highly personable and friendly with clients." Patrick Lewis' profile continues to grow, with market sources remarking on his tenacity. A barrister who "just doesn't give up," he "succeeds in cases solicitors have already given up on." He is active across immigration, asylum, and human rights cases, and is "a go-to guy for sticky matters." Interviewees also praised his client-handling skills: "If I have a vulnerable or difficult client, I know he will put them at ease," commented one source. Experienced junior Nadine Finch's bailiwick includes a specialism in immigration and asylum cases that have either a family or childcare element or a sexual discrimination side to them. Commentators attest that "you can guarantee she is not only correct, but will have considered the subject from all angles." David Jones' profile in the sector is one of increasing prominence, with a range of sources bestowing "an incredibly high rating" on his abilities. He remains most visible when utilising his expertise in unlawful detention cases, although his practice encompasses a far broader range of immigration asylum and human rights issues. Sources encounter Peter Jorro frequently on asylum cases and praise the efficacy of his approach, especially his familiarity with Article 7 of the ECHR. He is admired alongsideRonan Toal, whom admirers bill as "a brain on legs," whilst also remarking on his "refreshingly open approach and exceptional generosity with his time." His practice takes in immigration and asylum law, and his advice is informed by extensive prior experience as an immigration caseworker. Well recognised for her expertise across immigration, asylum and human rights work, Navita Atreya comes highly recognised for her expertise in entry clearance appeals and European law matters. Stephanie Harrison is particularly recommended by clients for her skill in immigration cases with a family law element. She is highly popular with solicitors, as is Louise Hooper, who covers the full breadth of asylum and human rights cases but is particularly praised for her involvement in trafficking cases and cases involving minors. Also at the set, Sonali Naik is well regarded for her work on family reunion cases.

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Band 2: Police Law: Mainly Claimant

Garden Court Chambers has a strong focus on actions against the police, as evidenced by the fact that this is a main area of practice for a number of its members. Involved in all major aspects of the subject, it further has a cadre of strong practitioners who are expert at death in custody cases. Stephen Simblet's practice focuses on the rights of the individual. He acts on civil claims against the police and other public authorities, and also makes numerous appearances in death in custody inquests. His recent work includes R (on application of Cash) v HM Coroner for Northamptonshire, a successful application for a judicial review that resulted in a fresh inquest being ordered. Instructing solicitors comment that Simblet is "tenacious, effective and excellent at handling clients. "A lawyer whose flame burns brightly," Leslie Thomas' caseload has a strong human rights aspect and includes claims against the police and public authorities. He recently acted successfully for Mohammed Raissi in his widely reported claim against the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, and impresses for being "very much an advocate who has a real sense of how to deal with a jury, and how to use witnesses to get his point across to a jury effectively." Instructing solicitors also appreciate the "aggressive cross-examinations and determination to always fight his corner" of Colin Hutchinson: "Efficient and punchy, he doesn't mess around." As well as appearing in actions against the police, Hutchinson has particular expertise in inquests; this was illustrated by his representation at the inquest into the death of Martin Wilson, a man who hanged himself whilst in police custody.

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Band 2: Social Housing

"Arguably the best set for legal aid matters across all areas, and certainly great when it comes to housing law," Garden Court Chambers has built up a team of very experienced and expert housing practitioners. "Flexible, accessible and particularly good in emergencies," it has members of such high quality as Jan Luba QC. Interviewees couldn't speak highly enough of this barrister, who is "virtually in a league of his own - his judgement about how the law should be developed to benefit those in housing need is unrivalled, and he remains the first choice for work in the appellate courts." Liz Davies has been promoted to the top tier of the rankings this year following a glut of positive feedback. "A good fighter in court," she is a leading thinker on homelessness and allocation law, an area she "knows inside-out."Stephen Knafler is the first-choice junior for many solicitors when it comes to housing-related judicial reviews, particularly those that touch on particularly tricky points. He has earned this status due to "his prolific output and flawless judgement," and solicitors and clients appreciate the "clear and practical advice" on offer from a barrister who "turns work around quickly and doesn't sit on the fence." "Very much an applicants' man," Stephen Cottle is an "extremely driven advocate." This characteristic stood him in good stead when he won McCann v UK at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, achieving what was widely seen as a "brilliant result." Seen by many as "the first choice for complex possession and disrepair cases," Beatrice Prevatt is credited with "an admirable ability to simplify and explain complex issues of law." She enjoys the full support of the market, as does "the extremely experienced and knowledgeable" David Watkinson. Peers all agree that he is "someone we have all learnt a great deal from over the years."

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