15 Nov 2022

Commercial crime silk leaves Cloth Fair for Fountain Court in London

Arrival of Clare Sibson KC underscores continued growth of Fountain Court's commercial crime team since practice was founded six years ago

Clare Sibson KC Image courtesy of Fountain Court Chambers

Clare Sibson KC is set to join Fountain Court Chambers this week from specialist criminal set Cloth Fair, in a move that underscores the former’s commitment to grow its commercial crime team. 

Sibson brings considerable experience of disputes at the intersection between commercial crime, civil fraud and regulatory law to Fountain Court. Ranked by both Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500 for her financial and business crime practice, she also brings a strong reputation as an advocate and cross-examiner. 

“Our commercial crime practice has continued to grow in recent years, and Clare is a stellar addition to that practice grouping,” said Fountain Court head of chambers, Bankim Thanki KC. “We look forward to her arrival and to strengthening further our presence in this field”.

Fountain Court’s commercial crime team was launched in 2016 with the arrival of senior silk Richard Lissack KC from Outer Temple Chambers along with juniors Robin Barclay and Eleanor Davison and junior Nicholas Medcroft from Wilberforce Chambers. 

Fountain Court said at the time the team was the first of its kind in a specialist commercial set, bridging the gap between the criminal and commercial bars and allowing it to provide a one stop service to clients in the financial and regulatory sphere.

In the interim the team has grown considerably, with Sibson joining as its 27th barrister and 10th silk, according to its website. 

Sibson began her legal career in in 1997 at QEB Hollis Whiteman specialising in criminal law and joined Cloth Fair in 2009, taking silk seven years later. 

She advises individuals connected to the SFO’s ongoing corruption investigations of the Rio Tinto Group and Glencore. Glencore was convicted of bribery in earlier this month, becoming one of the first businesses to be convicted under the Bribery Act 2010 and receiving a fine and penalties of £281m – the largest ever criminal sentence handed down by the UK courts to date.  

Sibson also previously defended former Barclays director John Varley in the first Barclays-Qatar trial, in 2019. That followed Lissack QC (as he then was) successfully dismissing proceedings against Barclays Bank, at the appellate level, in 2018. 

Sibson’s other instructions include defending Rebekah Brooks in her trial for phone-hacking charges. Still, her practice has increasingly attracted strong regulatory, company law, civil fraud and fiduciary duties aspects, all areas in which Fountain Court excels.

“I was lucky enough to work alongside excellent colleagues at Cloth Fair, and I am now very excited to be joining Fountain Court, which leads the field in combining first-class commercial and criminal practitioners,” Sibson said.

Her arrival at Fountain Court follows Mark O’Neill joining the set in July after a decade at Cloth Fair as a team leader alongside other recent new arrivals Oliver Duane and George Hack.

For its part Cloth Fair, which now numbers six silks and three juniors, specialises in high-profile corporate crime, regulatory and fraud cases, often with an international dimension. It boasts some of the most eminent leaders at the criminal Bar, such as John Kelsey-Fry KC and Nicholas Purnell KC.  

The set welcomed senior junior Stuart Biggs earlier this month, offsetting Sibson’s departure. It also saw Jonathan Barnard KC take silk in 2020 and junior Rachel Kapila join back in 2019. 

Cloth Fair did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sibson’s exit.

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