Legal Business

Blackstone Chambers’ Green QC acts on ‘Maxwellisation’ probe following delayed HBOS report


Heavyweight financial services silk Andrew Green QC (pictured) of Blackstone Chambers has been appointed as a specialist adviser to the Treasury Select Committee and commissioned to review ‘Maxwellisation’ after it took regulators seven years to publish a report on the failure of HBOS.

A parliamentary committee has begun a review into the public inquiry process of Maxwellisation, the process by which those who stand to be criticised in a public report are given an opportunity to respond to criticisms prior to publication. It follows events in December where UK regulators, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) published their report into the collapse of HBOS some seven years after it collapsed.

In a letter written by Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, to Chancellor George Osborne outlining the terms of reference of the review, Tyrie blames Maxwellisation, which lasted for 14 months, in delaying the HBOS report. ‘Some argue,’ the letter said, ‘that this took an unnecessarily long time.’

Evidence taken by the Treasury Committee ‘suggests that a balance needs to be struck,’ the letter said, as there is a ‘risk that very lengthy Maxwellisation proceedings could undermine confidence in the public review process.’

The review aims to make recommendations that can guide future public financial inquiries and to ensure any Maxwellisation process carried out is fair and proportionate.

Green QC is advising alongside a team of junior barristers from Blackstone. He is the author of the ‘Report into the FSA’s enforcement actions following the failure of HBOS,’ published in late 2015 which he was instructed by the FCA and PRA (and approved by the Treasury Select Committee) to produce.

Commenting on the announcement, Tyrie said: ‘This review will establish what the law requires, and the problems that may arise, from Maxwellisation. It may also make recommendations for remedy. It took seven years for taxpayers – who had to foot the £20.5bn bail-out of HBOS – to obtain a full explanation of HBOS’s failure. Serious management, governance and regulatory oversight failures all contributed to the bank’s collapse. The seven year wait was prolonged by Maxwellisation.’

He added: ‘Maxwellisation was never intended to be a means by which interminable argument would develop about every last detail of a regulator’s report. To permit that would undermine confidence in the public review process. The Committee may have a lot to examine.’

Maxwellisation is named after the late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who was criticised in a public inquiry in 1969 but had no right of reply.

Legal Business

FOI: Blackstone duo secure Guardian’s Supreme Court win over ‘black spider memos’


Blackstone Chambers‘ Dinah Rose QC and Ben Jaffey, alongside One Brick Court’s Aidan Eardley have secured a Supreme Court victory regarding the publication of Prince Charles’ ‘black spider memos.’

The trio were instructed by the Guardian News & Media’s Jan Clements while Leigh Day represented the Campaign for Freedom of Information which intervened in the case, instructing Nathalie Lieven QC, Richard Stein and Julianne Morrison. Timothy Pitt-Payne QC was instructed on the case by the Information Commissioner.

After a decade-long battle between The Guardian and Whitehall, five of the seven Supreme Court judges found that the then Attorney General Dominic Grieve did not have the authority to override a decision of the Upper Tribunal to publish letters sent by Prince Charles to government ministers, a judicial body which has the same status as the High Court.

Grieve in response to the Tribunal decision, which had held that the 27 pieces of correspondence should be made public, stopped the publication stating that he had, on ‘reasonable grounds’, formed the opinion that the Government had been entitled to refuse disclosure of the letters.

Blackstone Chambers’ James Eadie QC, 11KBW’s Karen Steyn QC and Monckton Chambers’ Josh Holmes acted for the Attorney General instructed by the Treasury Solicitor.

Legal Business

Bar news: Blackstone bolsters commercial litigation capability with hire of Brick Court’s Alan Maclean QC


Leading set Blackstone Chambers has taken further steps to bolster its commercial litigation and arbitration capability with the hire of heavyweight Brick Court Chambers commercial litigator Alan Maclean QC.

Having officially started yesterday (4 February), Maclean (pictured) is acknowledged by the Legal 500 as ‘a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom’ and a ‘streetwise trial advocate.’

With a practice that extends to multiple areas of commercial litigation and arbitration including banking, civil fraud, energy and natural resources, conflicts of laws, insurance and reinsurance, and public law, Maclean’s notable casework includes appearing as counsel to the Pollard Review into the BBC Newsnight/Jimmy Savile affair, and for the ‘Salford Defendants’ in large-scale Chancery Division proceedings brought by the late Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky concerning the estate of Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili.

Called to the Bar in 1993 and appointed to silk in 2009, Maclean’s high-profile work also involved acting for Tony Blair and Alastair Campbell in the Hutton Inquiry – a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of British scientist Dr David Kelly, a former British Ministry of Defence employee, identified in the national newspapers as the man the government believed was the source behind allegations that a dossier on weapons of destruction in Iraq had been ‘sexed up.’

A member of the Attorney General’s panel for 10 years and promoted to the ‘A’ Panel in 2006, clients of Maclean also included No 10 Downing Street, HM Treasury, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of justice and more recently the Department for Education in relation to its flagship academies programme.

Blackstone Chambers joint heads Tony Peto QC and Monica Carss-Frisk QC, said: ‘We are delighted that one of the bar’s leading commercial silks is joining Blackstone Chambers. Alan’s undoubted expertise will further enhance our commercial and international arbitration groups and we are all looking forward very much to working with him closely in the future.’

Alan Maclean QC said: ‘I am very pleased to be joining such an excellent set of Chambers, which I believe offers me the best platform for the next stage of my career. Having been a pupil at Blackstone, I am excited at the prospect of returning and contributing to the next stage of its strategic development, particularly in my key areas of specialisation, namely commercial litigation and arbitration.’

The hire is indicative of strategic expansion for Blackstone, a first-tier set in administrative law, public law, civil liberties and human rights, that also houses heavyweight advocates Lord Pannick QC and Dinah Rose QC. In October, it confirmed the hire of Wilberforce QC Michael Bloch, a rated commercial and intellectual property specialist, just six months after the addition of Matrix tax barrister Sam Grodzinski QC in March 2013.

For a detailed insight into clerks at the Bar see Pulling the strings – the surprisingly successful re-invention of clerking

Legal Business

The Bar: Bloch QC exits Wilberforce for Blackstone as Lord Hope joins Brick Court

Just weeks after Wilberforce Chambers’ longstanding chief executive and senior clerk Declan Redmond announced he is leaving for Keating Chambers, Wilberforce QC Michael Bloch has announced he is to depart for rival Blackstone Chambers.

A rated commercial and intellectual property specialist, Bloch QC’s recent caseload includes Nestles’ successful High Court battle with Cadbury earlier this month, after Cadbury tried to trademark the iconic purple colour of its Dairy Milk bars. Other significant cases include the British Sky Broadcasting Group v Microsoft over the latter’s use of the word ‘SkyDrive’ as the name for its cloud storage service.

Acknowledged by the Legal 500 as ‘receptive to which way the judge is moving and very quick to adapt’, Bloch QC is set to join Blackstone next week after 13 years at Wilberforce, which he joined from One Essex Court in 2000.

Bloch QC told Legal Business: ‘Blackstone promises to be an exciting place to be over the next few years. The more I looked into to it, the more I liked what I saw. It comprises some outstanding lawyers. It has a joined-up way of doing business. There is a friendly and collegiate spirit about the place. It already has a great reputation, and I suspect you’ve seen nothing yet.’

The QC’s departure will be a blow to 53-barrister Wilberforce, headed by John Martin QC, following as it does the resignation of senior clerk Declan Redmond, who is set to join Keating at the end of the year to take up a similar position. Redmond’s time at Wilberforce dates back to 1982, when he started as a junior clerk.

Meanwhile, Brick Court Chambers will shortly enhance its disputes offering with the arrival of Lord Hope of Craighead, who is to join as an arbitrator following his retirement from the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The veteran has previously acted as Lord Justice General of Scotland and Lord President of the Court Session, followed by a stint as Lord of Appeal in ordinary. In 2009, Lord Hope was appointed second senior Lord of Appeal and later became deputy president of the Supreme Court until his retirement in June.

Jonathan Hirst QC, joint head of Brick Court, said: ‘We are delighted that David Hope is joining us an arbitrator. He substantially strengthens our existing Scottish connection and we are sure that he will be in demand as an arbitrator.’

For a detailed insight into clerks at the Bar see Pulling the strings – the surprisingly successful re-invention of clerking