London barristers’ sets announce merger to great 120-strong common law giant

Combined chambers will be known as 5 Norwich Street when deal completes in the autumn
LONDON, UK - JUNE 6TH 2018: A street sign for Chancery Lane in central London, UK, on 6th June 2018.

chrisdorney, Shutterstock

London barristers’ chambers 9 Gough Chambers and 1 Chancery Lane have agreed a merger that will create a new set to be known as 5 Norwich Street.

The merger is due to be completed in the autumn and will see the 48 members from 1 Chancery Lane along with staff move to 9 Gough’s current building at 5 Norwich Street, Gough being the larger of the two merger partners.

Nine Gough’s Jacob Levy QC and Simon Readhead QC of 1 Chancery Lane will serve as joint heads. The combined group will consist of more than 120 barristers, including 14 silks. That will make it one of the biggest common law sets in the country.

Readhead said: “This merger is built on shared ambitions and values. By bringing together our specialist expertise and experience, we aim to enhance the quality of the service that we offer to our existing clients and to expand and develop the large range of practice areas in which barristers in both chambers are already widely recognised as pre-eminent in their fields.”

Readhead added that by combining the two chambers, administrative efficiencies will enable it to be more responsive to client needs and react faster to changing market conditions.

Clients across both sets include national and local firms of solicitors, companies, individuals, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office, government departments, insurers, police forces and local authorities. Their combined work includes areas such as personal injury, clinical negligence, professional liability, crime, criminal and civil fraud, disputes, among others.

Levy said: “We’ve long been admirers of each other and the prospect of increasing our overall bench strength is hugely appealing to both of us. We consider that the already excellent service we offer our clients; the range, depth of knowledge and skilled counsel available – would only see an enhancement by a merger of our two sets.”

A Bar Council survey at the start of the pandemic warned that 81% of chambers could fold within a year without government financial assistance, which raised the prospect of potential consolidation in the industry. 

Mergers, however, remain relatively rare. Last year regional chambers Cornwall Street Barristers and Maidstone Chambers merged to form Cornwall Street South. And in November 2020, north-east set Old Court Chambers was absorbed by Park Square Barristers.

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