Chambers UK 2012 states Axiom "best bet for complex, high-end litigation" with 50 recommendations
26 October 2011
Following the recent publication of Chambers UK 2012, Axiom Advocates is delighted to have secured 50 recommendations in the top legal directory in the key areas of commercial dispute resolution, administrative and public law, agriculture and rural affairs, construction, intellectual property, planning, professional discipline, professional negligence, public procurement, restructuring/insolvency and tax.
James Wolffe QC, Stable Director comments that "these results recognise the ability, skill and reputation of many individual members of the stable and reflect the commitment to excellence of the stable as a whole".
Commercial Dispute Resolution
THE SET Axiom Advocates retains its position as the leading commercial dispute resolution presence in Scotland. It was first out of the gate in recruiting the thoroughbreds of the Scottish Commercial Bar, which makes it the best bet for complex, high-end litigation. Sources say Axiom houses "an extremely impressive senior body of advocates" and it enjoys a position as the first port of call for many instructing solicitors. Sources also highlight this stable's excellent clerking team, which ensures that it remains a well-run set.
SILKS Sources hail Richard Keen QC as "the leader of the Scottish Bar" and "a formidable opponent." He earns plaudits from across the board and continues to impress with his broad-ranging expertise of corporate, banking, engineering and insurance matters. Recent high-profile work includes appearing in the case of Venture Drilling v Larsen Oil and Gas. Opponents of Alistair Clark QC admit to being anxious when facing him in court. He is praised as "straightforward, fair yet persuasive." David Johnston QC is hailed as "a real intellectual powerhouse." Recent highlights include acting in Tor Corporate AS v Chinese National Star Petroleum over a dispute arising from the wrongful termination of a contract. Heriot Currie QC is praised by sources for his vast experience of the full range of commercial disputes. His expertise encompasses IP, professional negligence, contractual and construction claims. Sources praise Jonathan Lake QC as "an incredibly bright" litigator. He is a specialist in contractual, IP and property disputes.
Gerry Moynihan QC is a firm favourite with instructing solicitors, who say: "He is a delight to work with and always takes a constructive approach to cases." He enjoys a broad-based corporate and commercial disputes practice. Interviewees feel that Gordon Reid QC "gets to grips quickly with challenging academic points and hard legal issues." He has considerable expertise in commercial property disputes. Sarah Wolffe QC acts across a range of commercial disputes and injects an understanding of insolvency, contractual, partnership and shareholder claims. Sources admire her strong abilities as an advocate. James McNeill QC continues to impress interviewees with his wide-ranging understanding of commercial disputes. He regularly attracts instructions to act for high-profile corporate entities and banks. Instructing solicitors say that Roddy Dunlop QC is "commercially bullish." He earns the admiration of market sources, who add that he is "a great practitioner who gets stuck in and loves a good scrap in court." James Mure QC is respected for his grasp of pensions, land, construction and contractual disputes. Recent highlights include acting in Autolink Concessionaires (M6) v Amey Construction over a dispute concerning the building of a motorway in Scotland.
JUNIORS Market sources enthuse that Garry Borland applies his "encyclopaedic knowledge" to dealing with cases. He advised on the case of R&D Construction Group v Hallam Land Management over a £2.3 million claim arising from an alleged breach of contract. Sources praise Martin Richardson as one of "the brightest and best juniors" at this stable. Clients appreciate that he "responds quickly and without fuss." He was recently involved in the case of Venture Drilling v Larsen Oil and Gas. Almira Delibegović-Broome quickly grasps the nettle of disputes arising out of corporate restructurings, whilst Roisin Higgins recently demonstrated her skill by acting in the high-profile City Inn v Shepherd Construction dispute. Morag Ross is praised by sources for the strength of her practice. She has an in-depth understanding of contractual disputes. Kenneth McBrearty acted in the case of Whyte & Mackay v Capstone International over a contractual dispute relating to the distribution of whisky in the USA. He has considerable public law experience. Jonathan Barne enjoys a broad disputes practice with expertise in professional negligence, insolvency, construction and property matters. He was part of the team defending ScottishPower against claims brought by Morrison Sport.
Administrative and Public Law
David Johnston QC of Axiom Advocates is one of the stable's pre-eminent practitioners and attracts some of its highest-profile work. He is a popular choice among instructing solicitors thanks to his "top-notch technical ability" and "utterly unflappable demeanour under pressure." He has been acting in a number of high profile cases, including an appeal on the extent to which the Upper Tribunal may be subject to judicial review and an appeal concerning the rights of unmarried fathers to participate in children's hearings. Solicitors report that "he has the ear of the court" and is always "attuned to the needs of his clients." Stablemate and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, Richard Keen QC is said to display "a touch of genius when on his feet." He dazzles observers with his persuasiveness and "ability to make an excellent job out of underwhelming material." He is handling a major judicial review on behalf of insurers challenging pleural plaques legislation. Fellow Axiom tenant Ruth Crawford QC is felt to be a strong all-round performer in judicial reviews and statutory appeals. Her clients include the Scottish Ministers, corporations and public authorities, including NHS Scotland and the Scottish Legal Aid Board, and she is lauded as "a master of detail." She represented Transport Scotland at the Forth Crossing Bill inquiry. Crawford is under the same roof at Axiom as James Wolffe QC, who is described by sources as "incredibly bright" and is praised for bringing "a careful, considered manner in the courtroom." As a recent former Senior Advocate Depute, he has extensive experience of acting for the Crown in the Supreme Court and High Court of the Justiciary. Also at this set is James Mure QC, who is highly esteemed for his "encyclopaedic knowledge" of public law. He recently appeared in a number of judicial reviews for the Lord Advocate, including as senior counsel in a challenge to the tobacco display ban. He is also handling litigation before the Supreme Court in a case concerning disclosure requirements for sex offenders. Sources highlight his preparation skills and "an ability to draw out convincing arguments." Stablemate Anna Poole currently holds the post of First Standing Junior Counsel to the Scottish Government. She is applauded for her "diligence in finding every possible argument to win a case" and grasp of EU law. Like Mure, she was also instructed in the much-publicised judicial reviews of the tobacco display ban. Morag Ross also works from within this set and continues to attract praise for her work on behalf of both petitioners and respondents. She acts for the Scottish Information Commissioner and was recently instructed to handle an appeal by the Scottish Ministers following the issuing of an Information Notice. She also dealt with a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Erin Casey.
Agriculture and Rural Affairs
Commentators say that "when nothing but the best will do," Gordon Reid QC of Axiom Advocates is a first port of call. His agriculture practice centres around landlord and tenant and crofting matters. Solicitors find him "an impressive operator who produces excellent submissions and assimilates concepts very quickly."
THE SET Whilst Axiom Advocates is highly regarded for its commercial practice, the set has a number of medical negligence practitioners with a strong reputation for representing medical professionals and defence unions.
SILKS The "stupendous" Iain Ferguson QC is regarded as a go-to silk for high-value clinical negligence cases in Scotland. A significant proportion of his practice involves defending claims on behalf of medical defence councils, practitioners and other clinical institutions. Roddy Dunlop QC is considered to be "an incredibly experienced practitioner who is amongst the foremost of his generation." His wide-ranging practice includes a varied clinical negligence caseload.
THE SET In addition to providing top-notch sources of counsel, Axiom Advocates offers an "excellent, old-fashioned" commitment to service whilst making efforts to ensure facilities remain technologically up-to-date. Instructing solicitors are also keen to stress the efforts of the clerking team in making this stables an efficiently run set.
SILKS Richard Keen QC is recognised as "the pre-eminent construction silk at the Scots Bar" by sources. Not only is he an "amazingly persuasive advocate," he is also "fantastic with clients." He handled the case of City Inn v Shepherd Construction concerning liability for disruption and delay. Fellow silk Gordon Reid QC has, like Keen, a fine reputation. He is known as an advocate who is thoroughly boned up on the law and is "excellent when it comes to hard legal issues."
JUNIORS Sources claim that leading construction junior Garry Borland is "exceptionally thorough and client-friendly." Borland is acting for the M6 joint venture to defend claims brought over alleged defects in the M74 motorway. Gavin Walker is singled out for his advocacy skills. Commentators deem him a "safe, reliable pair of hands" who is "an expert at hammering through heavy expert evidence." Highlights include acting for the respondent in disputes relating to the construction of a new preparatory school. Instructing solicitors praise Heriot Currie QC for having "a first-rate, slickly commercial style that is pleasing to both ourselves and our clients."
THE SET This impressive stable is the first port of call for IP in Scotland, with its advocates being instructed on the vast majority of IP matters arising in this jurisdiction. Members of Axiom are thoroughly experienced in commercial and public law, and solicitors appreciate the breadth of talent and range of specialisms available.
SILKS Heriot Currie QC is a hugely respected advocate with a broad range of experience that takes in IP. His name crops up time and again in connection with complex IP disputes.
JUNIORS Roisin Higgins has a broad and varied IP practice and is able to devote a greater proportion of her time to the field than most. Her expertise takes in the full spectrum of IP, from trade mark and copyright disputes to patent matters. She has recently assisted Bayer CropScience on infringement proceedings relating to a pesticide patent. She is much admired by commentators, who consider her "very easy to communicate with and very personable. She talks to clients at the right level and never attempts to present herself as a lofty intellectual."
Ruth Crawford QC of Axiom Advocates is commended by interviewees for her research abilities and her "comfortable handling of highly complicated matters." Her background lies in administrative and public law, which she applies to representing both public agencies and the private sector. Highlights include acting for Transport Scotland over an inquiry into the construction of a new Forth bridge.
Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates has acted on behalf of the likes of the General Medical Council, the General Dental Council, the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Law Society of Scotland. His recent cases include Sheldon v Nursing and Midwifery Council. Commentators say that he is "skilled, excellent on his feet and highly persuasive."
Roddy Dunlop QC of Axiom Advocates is a recent silk with a wide-ranging professional negligence practice. He has extensive experience at every level of the Scottish legal system and is "a formidable advocate who argues cases with great conviction and intellectual rigour." Another silk at Axiom with a substantial professional negligence practice is Iain Ferguson QC. Although doing a lot of clinical negligence work these days, he is also highly recommended for his expertise in solicitors' liability. Jonathan Barne is one of Axiom's talented junior barristers. He has a substantial professional negligence practice which dovetails with his mainstream commercial and construction work. One solicitor described him as "the most thoroughly prepared advocate that I've ever come across." He forms a productive partnership with colleague Alastair Duncan, who is "massively reliable, thorough and knows his papers inside out." Duncan is widely regarded as one of the best juniors around for solicitor negligence cases. Kenneth McBrearty also does a lot of solicitors' defence work and has been involved in high-profile trials recently. At the same chambers, Martin Richardson is recommended for his work on construction-related disputes. He impresses solicitors as "intellectually sharp, hard-working and good to work with."
Morag Ross of Axiom Advocates has experience across a range of public law matters, including procurement, and is singled out for her "diligence and understated yet effective style in the courtroom." She recently advised North Lanarkshire council regarding anticipated proceedings by a dissatisfied tendering party.
James McNeill QC of Axiom Advocates offers highly regarded restructuring and insolvency expertise, and peers admire his prolific practice. At the same stable, Garry Borland's considerable construction and company law expertise is an asset to his insolvency practice. Stablemate Almira Delibegović-Broome is "personable and very bright." She is also "technically brilliant and has the ear of the court."
Heriot Currie QC of Axiom Advocates focuses the tax element of his broad practice exclusively on VAT disputes. His court presence draws admiring praise and peers admit he is "a formidable opponent and an excellent advocate." Another major player at Axiom Advocates, David Johnston QC is described as "the classic very clever guy." He is held in high regard by peers for his ability to handle the most complex tax litigation cases, as exemplified by his involvement in Scottish Widows' appeal against HMRC. James McNeill QC also practises from Axiom Advocates' Edinburgh stable. His practical manner makes him a favourite with clients. "He is excellent at the analysis of problems, getting to the heart of complicated questions and explaining them in a way that is readily comprehensible," say impressed sources. Tax disputes are a significant part of his broad commercial litigation practice.
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