Virtual chambers brings in first QC as it outlines global ambition

Hickey: virtual technology crucial, as is common ethos

A virtual set of tax and revenue-specialist barristers has multiplied from its two founders to 11 members since it launched last summer, with several based overseas as it looks to build a global practice.

Addington Chambers, which was created specifically to avoid the overheads of maintaining a central London building, last week added its first QC member, Michael Ashe, a former Crown Court Recorder.

Co-founder and joint head of chambers Julian Hickey told Legal Futures it aspired to become a truly global practice.

He said: “Our clients are spread throughout the world, and our expertise in advisory and disputes work covers international matters.”

Six of the 11 are associate members, with four of them based respectively in Australia, South Africa, Ireland and Jersey.

Future plans included continuing “to build on our strong expertise in tax law and related areas of international legal practice”, he said.

The chambers was founded during the pandemic and relies heavily on technology that enables remote working.

Mr Hickey said: “All members of chambers have embraced the use of virtual technology, which has been very effective in keeping in contact with our clients, colleagues and continuing to develop our respective practices in these difficult times.

“We have participated in a number of virtual tax appeal hearings…

“We all regularly keep in touch with one another, and work to help in building or respective practices, whether it’s through marketing or helping out with tricky questions.”

He predicted that low-overheads, distributed model of barristers chambers would become more widespread, but a shared interest in the common area of practice was key, as was sharing a similar outlook.

“The strength of any chambers is in its members, who get on well together, and are good colleagues. [But] what binds us together as a set… is that we are all collegiate and have common legal interests.

“Having a shared legal specialism [is in itself] never going to be enough to build a sustainable chambers. In our experience, it is also necessary to have members who… have a shared vision, which in our case is to be the best at what we do.”

Mr Ashe’s specialism is business and finance, and his practice involves contract, company law, financial services, market abuse and tax. Also an SC in Ireland, he has acted as a prosecution counsel in Singapore and recently completed a seven-month insider dealing case in Dublin.

Another new Addington member is Lynn Counsell, the author of numerous business-related law books.

Mr Hickey said: “In today’s complex financial and post-Brexit world there is a growing demand for representing individuals and businesses on appeals relating to complicated tax matters and associated advisory work.

“We are seeing demand for our services grow, against a backdrop of constantly evolving anti-avoidance rules, and inevitably this will increase due to the need for taxes to pay for the pandemic.”

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