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About Us

The 36 Group

The 36 Group is ranked as a "Leading Set" of barristers' chambers in Legal 500 and Chambers and Partners, the leading lawyers' directories in the United Kingdom.

The 36 Group is a multi-specialist set of barristers' Chambers (offices) located in a handsome listed building at 36 Bedford Row, London. It is situated close to the Royal Courts of Justice (Queen's Bench Division and Court of Appeal), the Rolls Building (Chancery Division and the Commercial Court), the Old Bailey (the Central Criminal Court) and the historic four Inns of Court (the Honourable Societies of Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Lincoln's Inn and Middle Temple).

On 25 June 2018, The 36 Group acquired the prestigious building at 4 Field Court, Gray’s Inn, generally considered to be one of the most impressive stand-alone buildings in any of the four Inns of Court. The 36 Group will complete a full move from 36 Bedford Row to 4 Field Court by autumn 2018. 

At the same time as acquiring 4 Field Court, The 36 Group were joined by Stone Chambers who include highly ranked Shipping and International Trade counsel, such as Elizabeth Blackburn QC, Vasanti Selvaratnam QC, Dr Colin Ong QC, and Professor Charles Debattista. All former members of Stone Chambers are now members of “36 Stone”, a new specialist practice group operating within The 36 Group. 

With over 140 barristers, mediators and arbitrators (including 15 Queen's Counsel (QCs/Silks), 3 Senior Counsel (SCs/Silks) from Ireland and South Africa, and a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of India), The 36 Group is one of the largest London based sets. It is the preferred choice for many firms of solicitors, foreign law firms, public bodies, businesses and individual members of the public.

Within The 36 Group, dedicated practice groups provide specialist legal services that include advice, the drafting of agreements and other documents, and courtroom, tribunal and arbitral advocacy.

The 36 Group's barristers specialise principally in the following areas of law: commercial, crime, employment, family, immigration, property, private client and contentious probate, and shipping and international trade.  Each of the main practice groups are readily recognisable by the prefix "36" followed by the relevant subject area of law, as in "36 Commercial”, "36 Crime", “36 Family” and “36 Stone (Shipping & International Trade)” etc.

The Group's barristers are reputed to combine legal expertise and trial advocacy skills to an impressive level, whilst remaining sensitive to the needs of the client, irrespective of whether the client happens to be an individual, a partnership or a corporate entity, a public body or the Government of a foreign State. Some members also act mediators and/or as arbitrators.

Richard Wilson QC, LL.D and William Harbage QC lead the 36 Group as Joint Heads of Chambers and co-Chairs of its Executive Board.

Aims

The 36 Group's barristers are client-focused. They aim to:

  • Provide excellent legal services for their clients, in each of the set's specialist fields.
  • Be professional, competent and sympathetic in dealings with clients, both lay and professional.
  • Pursue its clients' interests with tenacity and courage, whilst not losing sight of the need to be objective.

Scope of Legal Services

Barrister members of the 36 Group:

  • Provide a range of legal services principally in the fields of Commercial, Crime, Extradition, Family, Employment, Immigration, Property, Regulatory and Shipping & International Trade.
  • Can provide a range of services to a single client across product (specialist) lines.
  • Are specialist lawyers who provide legal advice to clients, solicitors, and other lawyers (including corporate general counsel, in-house lawyers for public bodies and foreign lawyers).
  • Advise clients on strategy, law and evidence, where the matter is contentious.
  • Provide specialist trial and appellate court advocates, to represent their clients in courts, at hearings and inquiries before a variety of judicial, disciplinary and statutory bodies and tribunals.
  • Advise and represent members of the public and businesses directly under the Bar Council's Direct Public Access scheme, without solicitor intermediaries.
  • Advise and represent clients at Mediations and Arbitrations.
  • Are accredited Mediators and Arbitrators, and act as mediators or arbitrators to assist parties settle disputes ranging from business and commercial matters to private family matters.
  • Provide bespoke training on specialist legal topics for solicitors, in-house lawyers, local authorities and other public bodies, corporate executives and business entities.
  • Are all sole practitioners, unless specified otherwise.
  • Are all barristers registered with the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales (with one or two exceptions).
  • Have professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited; contact details for the Bar Mutual; and a statement of the territorial coverage of the Bar Mutual insurance cover held.

Quality of Work

The 36 Group barristers have a proven track record of producing quality work for their clients at the highest levels, and also in the lower courts and tribunals - across a broad spectrum.

Members regularly appear in high profile cases in the High Court, the Crown Court, the Court of Appeal (both Civil and Criminal Divisions), and in the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

In the past few years, members have appeared in the Supreme Court in cases involving commercial law, consumer law, criminal law, employment law, European Union law, extradition law, family law, human rights, immigration law, property law and public and administrative law.

The two of the most viewed cases in the history of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have been cases involving 36 Group barristers. See report by The Independent newspaper.

The services of 36 Family barristers are sought from overseas jurisdictions, including Dubai, Hong Kong and the Channel Islands.

A number of foreign languages are spoken by some of our barristers: including French, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Dutch, German, Urdu, Hindi and Punjabi.

Whether it is advice, advocacy or  ADR (alternative dispute resolution) services, The 36 Group provides professional, yet friendly and approachable assistance.

Contributions to Domestic and International Law

With a history extending over 140 years, members of Chambers have figured prominently as barristers throughout the evolution of the modern system of justice from the Judicature Acts in the nineteenth century right up to the most recent UK and European Union legislation.

More recently, some members have made contributions to the development of international criminal and human rights law before international tribunals.

Some examples of the broad contribution to the law made by the set's barristers include:

  • Successful appearances by members of The 36 Group in the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal (Civil and Criminal Divisions) have played a part in shaping domestic law across diverse specialist practice areas.
  • The determination shown by The 36 Group barristers in challenging existing legal orthodoxies or lower court decisions, in order to obtain a just result for their clients - clients who have variously been individuals, institutions, corporate bodies or foreign Governments.
  • Charles Debattista of 36 Stone (barrister, arbitrator and formerly Professor of Commercial Law at the University of Southampton) is a regular contributor in his specialist fields of shipping, international trade and international commercial arbitration to market journals such as the International Arbitration Law Review, International Company and Commercial Law Review, International Trade and Carriage of Goods, Lloyd’s Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly, and the Journal of Business Law.
  • Since the late 1990s, several members have been involved in a number of international criminal human rights tribunals in Europe, Asia and Africa, and at The Hague.
  • In 2012, Sir Howard Morrison KCMG, CBE, QC, a former member of Chambers was elected from the Group of Western European and other States to sit as a Judge in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for a 9-year term.
  • Frances Oldham QC, was appointed by the Jersey State Authority to Chair an important Public Inquiry into events at Haut de la Garenne children's home. Click Here
  • There is also an increasing contribution by members of The 36 Group, across practice fields, as authors of books for the legal profession and business community. To see some of our members' publications, click here.
  • The 36 Group has an outstanding record of its members being appointed to the judiciary.  Amongst the most prominent are:
    • Mrs Justice Elizabeth Lane, the first woman to be appointed a county court judge in England (1962) before going on to become the first woman to be appointed a High Court judge in England (1965). Earlier, in 1950 she had become only the third King’s Counsel (or KC) after two other women had taken Silk the previous year.
    • Mr Justice Swanwick who, when at the Bar, led for the prosecution in the trial of James Hanratty in the A6 murder trial at Bedford Assizes. Hanratty was convicted, received the death penalty. He was one of the last people in the United Kingdom to be executed for murder.
    • The late Mr Justice Hunt, a much respected former Head of Chambers. He was held in considerable affection across the legal profession and judiciary. In honour of his memory, Gray's Inn annually awards the James Hunt prize for advocacy and Nottingham Trent University named its library the 'James Hunt Library'.
    • Sir Howard Morrison KCMG, CBE, QC was elected a Judge of the International Criminal Court in The Hague (see above). Sir Howard is also Honorary Professor of Law at Leicester University and a visiting lecturer at universities in the UK, Holland, USA, Australia and, the Middle East.

In addition, a great many former members of Chambers have been appointed to the Circuit Bench over the last 25 years.

Some current members are part-time members of the judiciary holding appointments ranging from Deputy High Court judge and Recorders, to quasi-judicial appointments such as Chair of the Police Appeals Tribunal and Charging Adjudicator of the Parking and Appeals Tribunal.