Freshfields arbitration partner opts for the Bar

Peter Turner KC joins 39 Essex Chambers after 27 years as a partner at Magic Circle firm

Peter Turner KC Image courtesy of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

A longstanding arbitration partner at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer is set to join 39 Essex Chambers.

Peter Turner KC, who spent 27 years as a partner at the Magic Circle firm, will join the set to pursue a career as counsel and arbitrator at the Bar.

Pending his call to the Bar, the set announced Turner would practice as counsel, as an avocat in Paris and take arbitral appointments. 

Lindsay Scott, chief executive of 39 Essex Chambers, said the set was delighted that such an experienced practitioner would join them.

“We look forward to his doing so as soon as he has been called to the Bar of England and Wales,” she said. “He will strengthen our international, investment treaty and commercial teams and add to the likes of Loretta Malintoppi, David Bateson, Lord Dyson and Richard Wilmot-Smith KC from our diverse group of arbitrators.”

Turner, who practised in Paris at Freshfields, is an English solicitor and French avocat à la cour. He was appointed King’s Counsel in 2015. 

His practice comprises investment-treaty arbitration and other matters involving issues of public international law, as well as complex and high-value commercial disputes, including post-M&A disputes and construction and engineering cases. His industry experience covers a wide range, from energy to manufacturing and financial services and banking. 

Turner said: “I am rather emotional about leaving Freshfields, where I have practised for so many years with such wonderful colleagues, but I am excited about having the freedom to take matters on – whether in arbitration or the courts in England and France – without the constraints of being a partner in a big firm.”

Turner’s exit, although not unexpected, reduces the size of Freshfields’ silks practice from five to four. The practice once boasted seven silks – the highest number of solicitor-silks at any law firm. Nigel Rawding KC, who took silk in 2016 and had led Freshfields’ international arbitration practice, joined Twenty Essex in 2021, while Ben Juratowitch KC, appointed in 2017, joined Essex Court Chambers the same year

Reza Mohtashami KC, a 2018 appointee, also left Freshfields to join Three Crowns shortly after his elevation. However, those exits were offset slightly when Sylvia Noury, the head of the firm’s arbitration practice, was appointed in 2022.

A spokesperson at Freshfields said: “We wish Peter all the very best.”

Turner’s exit also further reduces the concentration of silks across the Magic Circle, with Audley Shepperd KC joining Twenty Essex last week from Clifford Chance, among other moves to the Bar such as Louis Flannery KC, currently head of international arbitration at Mishcon de Reya, joining Littleton Chambers in August. 

Turner’s move follows a sequence of key commercial hires by 39 Essex’s Scott, who recently recruited the highly regarded Rachel Foxton from Opus2 to manage the set’s Asian annexe. Foxton – who previously performed a similar role at Twenty Essex and worked at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre at a formative time in its development – is well known internationally. She replaced Abhinav Bhushan following the latter’s exit to Drew & Napier. 

The set’s clerking has also been enhanced, with Lewis Walker joining last September as director of clerking. The move offsets the overlapping departure of experienced senior practice manager Mark Winrow, who moved to Dubai with HKA. 

As the set’s lead clerk for the commercial and construction practice, Walker, who has experience at insurers Gallagher and Blackstone Chambers, manages the careers of silks like Paul Darling OBE KC, Lindy Patterson KC and former Herbert Smith partner, David Brynmor Thomas KC, alongside its leading juniors.

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