3VB invested in star laterals in 2018: now it’s payoff time

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Cast your mind back to a moment of high drama in the Inns in 2016, when Sonia Tolaney QC headed a breakaway group from 3VB to One Essex Court. The band of laterals, which included James Macdonald and Sandy Phipps, originally included 3VB joint head Adrian Beltrami QC, who started moving his boxes to One Essex and then – who in a splendid plot twist – decided to stay put at his old set.

One wonders whether this episode focused minds at 3VB, which according to Litigation Tracker’s Q3 report last year, has seen a 21 per cent rise in tenant headcount since 2016, growing from 67 to 81 tenants – the fastest growing of any set in the Bar Top 30.

Adrian Beltrami QC 3 Verulam Buildings
Adrian Beltrami QC, 3VB’s joint head of Chambers

In particular, the arrivals of Hodge Malek QC halfway through 2018 and Hefin Rees QC in October are very visible evidence of a bounceback by 3VB after Tolaney’s high-profile defection. The arrival of two 39 Essex Chambers silks of different seniority (Rees took silk in 2013, Malek was made up in 1999) underlined 3VB’s plan to build out both its senior and middle pool of QCs.

The Bar grapevine attributes around £5m in combined billings of both silks and the team of juniors that went across to 3VB in 2018.

Sonia Tolaney QC, One Essex Court
Sonia Tolaney QC, now at One Essex Court. She left 3VB in 2016.

How busy are the new hires likely to be this year? Historical Litigation Tracker data shows that Malek has made at least nine appearances across the Chancery, and Commercial Courts since 2015, including one in the Court of Appeal. Seven of those appearances have been in trusts cases, and he has been instructed by Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, Devonshires, Payne Hicks Beach and Russell-Cooke among others for the likes of Berkeley Group Holdings, Canaccord Genuity Wealth and Kea Trust Company. Most colourfully, he was instructed by Devonshires for Alexandra Tolstoy and her children before Birss J in the Chancery division during the  mammoth case against Russian oligarch Sergei Pugachev in 2017.

But what does 2019 hold for 3VB?

Coming up in June this year is another elephantine case that makes the Tolstoy trial look puny by comparison: High Commissioner for Pakistan in the UK v. NatWest Bank Plc, on which he is acting for Prince Jah, and is instructed by Philip Barden of Devonshires. That particular saga has made it into The Lawyer’s Top 20 cases for 2019.

Hefin Rees QC’s recruitment several months after the advance party from 39 Essex Chambers was less sensational than the group hire, but is nevertheless part of 3VB’s strategy to develop international coverage within that select group of sets whose members regularly boast Caribbean tans.

Hodge Malek
Hodge Malek moved to 3VB last year.

Rees’s home CV is solid: it includes a seven-week Chancery trial in 2018; a three week Commercial Court trial in 2017; and Harlequin Property (SVG) Ltd v Wilkins Kennedy, instructed by ELS Legal which made it into The Lawyer’s Top 20 Cases 2016.

But it’s his offshore work that has been the most eye-catching, and has included two trials in the BVI in 2017; a trial in Cayman in 2017; and a four-week trial in Barbados in 2015. Rees has worked particularly closely with Walkers in that time, the most recent has been Chad Holm v Sancus, a contract dispute regarding Bank of Asia in BVI.

And this year? Rees is back in the Caribbean this very week, this time in Cayman on Tangerine Investment Management Limited (in official liquidation) v DMS Governance Limited, which considers whether an offshore provider of directors to Cayman trust funds can be held vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of a director it placed in the trust fund to provide corporate governance. Rees, instructed by Conyers Dill & Pearman, is opposite Fountain Court’s Ben Valentin QC, instructed by Campbells.

2019 cases for 3VB’s juniors

Rees’s junior on Tangerine this week is Cleon Catsambis (called 2011), who was among the group of juniors to move from 39 Essex Chambers last year to 3VB. Which brings us back to the question of what this year holds for that group of juniors.

Inevitably, not all the cases are in the public domain – James Potts (called 2011), for example, is instructed as Hodge Malek QC’s junior on a major ongoing matter that is confidential.

Other of the 39 Essex Chambers hires are easier to track, however. Not long after arriving at 3VB Saima Hanif (called 2002) appeared on The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, R (On the Application Of) v The Secretary of State for Health, instructed by Penningtons Manches and led by her old setmate Alison Foster QC of 39 Essex Chambers.

Hanif, who has a strong track record on FCA cases, has also worked on numerous occasions with Malek, such as on Roberts v The Financial Conduct Authority, in which she was instructed by Withers. This year she is acting for one of many defendants, Indigo Securities, in a tax fraud claim by the Danish tax authority, again working with Malek and instructed by Matthew Hennessy-Gibbs at Keystone.

Farhaz Khan (called 2005), recently seen on Shurbanova v FX Capital Markets LLC in 2017 in which he was instructed by KWM Europe for the defendant forex firm in a breach of contract claim, has had a number of Financial List cases and has simultaneously built out a strong practice in Dubai-related work. Current instructions include acting for Atlas Mara, the African bank run by Bob Diamond, in defending claims brought by its former CEO in the DIFC Courts. Back in London, he will be acting for the Council of Lloyd’s in regulatory proceedings against reinsurer MS Amlin regarding breaches of Lloyd’s rules concerning use of money held on trust to pay out claims.

This week Yash Bheroo (called 2011) is instructed by Alistair Wilcox at the Solicitors Regulation Authority in SRA v Chetinkaya & Curab, a three-day trial that began yesterday (15 January) taking place at the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in which solicitor advocate Jonathan Goodwin is instructed on the other side.  Bheroo will be acting on behalf of the SRA on another trial that has been adjourned to later in the year.

And next for 3VB? Further hires look likely – indeed, just today 3VB announced that former Freshfields arbitration partner Brian King is joining the set as an associate member. ‘We already have impressive strength in a number of practice areas, but they can always be enhanced by extra quality,’ says chambers director Robin Jackson. ‘Organic growth is fundamental, but we also strive to make 3VB attractive to those who already have excellent established practices.’ No subtext, there: rather, a statement of intent.

The post 3VB invested in star laterals in 2018: now it’s payoff time appeared first on The Lawyer | Legal insight, benchmarking data and jobs.



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