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The Bar: 20 Essex Street announces new joint heads of chambers

Leading commercial litigation set 20 Essex Street has today (18 June) announced the appointment of Christopher Hancock QC and Duncan Matthews QC as joint heads of chambers from 1 August, where they will succeed outgoing longstanding chief Iain Milligan QC.

Milligan hands over to his commercial litigation and arbitration-focused successors after 15 years as head, but will remain a member of chambers.

The dual appointment follows a period of marked expansion for the set during Milligan’s tenure, during which time it has grown to 76 members and in 2010 opened an outpost in Singapore by invitation from the Singaporean government.

The set is acknowledged by the Legal 500 as second tier in commercial litigation and first tier in commodities disputes. High profile work undertaken by Matthews recently includes the civil fraud and finance cases for Mukhtar Ablyazov in the multi-billion dollar claim by JSC BTA Bank and at present for the administrators of Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (the UK subsidiary of the collapsed Icelandic bank) in its claim against UBS.

Insurance heavyweight Hancock, meanwhile, recently acted as lead counsel in ‘The Prestige’, a multi-jurisdictional dispute between a London insurer, Spain, and France arising from one of the largest oil spills in recent years.

Milligan said: ‘Chris and Duncan make a formidable team and I am sure that they will do an excellent job. The role has expanded greatly since I took it on in 1999 due in no small part to chambers’ growing size and profile both in London and Singapore. The scope of chambers’ work has grown in recent years with the addition of an excellent insolvency team and increasing strength in banking and finance, energy, fraud and competition law alongside our well-established prominence in international arbitration, insurance, private and public international law, commodities and shipping. I wish Chris, Duncan and chambers as a whole every success in the future.’