St John’s Chambers win ‘Chambers of the Year 2018’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers were voted ‘Chambers of the Year 2018’ at last night’s Bristol Law Society Annual Awards Dinner. The event was held at the Marriott Hotel, Bristol and raised funds for The Freewheelers blood bikes, a registered charity supporting the NHS in South West England by providing a free emergency motorcycle courier service. The award is given to a Chambers that is able to demonstrate excellence and innovation in the provision of legal services above and beyond their colleagues in the field including CSR activities. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our clients, old and new, who have supported us and made this achievement possible.

Photographed above from left to right is: Rachel Segal, Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Barrister; Anita Young, Events Manager & Marketing Coordinator; Sophie Smith-Holland, Family & Divorce Barrister; Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers; Robert Bocock, Commercial & Chancery Practice Manager; Harriet Dudbridge, Family & Divorce Barrister and Annie Sampson, Commercial & Chancery Barrister.

St John’s Chambers providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’

We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers has been recommended as a Top Tier Set in the Western Circuit’s Leading Set by The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017.

For one solicitor, St John’s Chambers is ‘one of the leading sets in the South West’, providing ‘London-quality advice locally’ with ‘a good breadth and depth of expertise’. We specialise in civil matters and have been noted for our strength in commercial, construction, family, personal injury, clinical negligence, regulatory and public law matters. Inquests and inquiries is another key area for our Chambers’.

Three of our QCs are listed in the Western Circuits “Leading silks” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding silks nationwide.

Christopher Sharp QC, Family and children law & personal injury and clinical negligence, “He has a brilliant mind that understands the intricacies of any case.”

Leslie Blohm QC, Commercial, banking, insolvency, Chancery law and Property, “He is very grounded but has an air of absolute authority.”

Kathryn Skellorn QC, Family and children law, “Clients are in awe of her.”

In addition to the success of our QC’s, 38 of our barristers are listed in the “Leading juniors” list, The Legal 500 United Kingdom 2017’s guide to outstanding juniors nationwide.

To view further details on our Chambers’ listings please click here

The creation of the Business and Property Courts will enable competition law cases to be heard outside of London

St John’s Chambers’ competition law specialist, Matthew O’Regan, was recently interviewed by PaRR Global, a leading provider of global intelligence on competition law, about how the introduction of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales will encourage competition law litigation outside of London.

The new Business and Property Courts of England and Wales (“BPCs”) became operational on 2 October 2017. As well as London, new BPCs have also been established in five regional centres, including both Bristol and Cardiff. As part of the reforms, the Mercantile Court has been renamed as the ‘Circuit Commercial Court’ and Mercantile Judges are now known as ‘Circuit Commercial Judges’.

A significant change brought about by the creation of the BPCs is that claims based upon either UK or EU competition law can now be issued and heard outside of London, in one of the five regional centres. Previously, such claims could only be brought in either the High Court in London (in either the Chancery Division or the Commercial Court) or in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”), which is based in London, although it has on occasion sat in Cardiff, as well as in Edinburgh and Belfast.

One of the principal objectives of the introduction of the BPCs is to ensure that claims are brought and heard in the most appropriate centre, which will not necessarily be London. Where a claim has ‘significant links’ to one of the regional circuits, it should normally be issued in the appropriate hearing centre, i.e. Bristol for the Western Circuit and Cardiff for the Wales Circuit. Cases may also be transferred from the High Court in London to a regional centre, so that cases with a significant link to a circuit are heard there by a specialist judge. In this way, only cases which are suitable for management and trial will remain in London; all other claims will be transferred to the appropriate regional centre.

A ‘significant link’ can be established in different ways, including by reference to the location of the parties, witnesses and legal representatives, as well as whether the dispute occurred in a location within, or concerns land, goods or other assets located within, the circuit.

The BPCs will include a new specialist list for competition claims, the Competition List, which forms part of the Chancery Division. Claims involving competition law may also be brought in the Commercial Court (which forms part of the Queen’s Bench Division), including the Circuit Commercial Court, if they form part of a contractual or other business dispute.

It should be noted that where a claim allocated to the Competition List is issued in a regional centre, its case management and/or trial will be dependent on the availability of a suitable judge. However, the President of the CAT and twelve of its Chairmen are High Court judges and so have expertise in competition law matters, as do a number of other High Court judges, whether on the bench or in practice. Therefore, provided judges with competition law expertise are prepared to go on circuit, there is no reason why case management and trial cannot take place in a regional centre.

The introduction of the BPC therefore provides an opportunity for litigants and solicitors based outside of London to bring competition claims in regional centres, including both Bristol and Cardiff. This may mean that cases can be heard more quickly and at lower cost than if they were to be issued and heard in London. By way of example, the following claims would be suitable for hearing in the regions:

  • claims for damages following a decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) that companies in a particular town or region have participated in an illegal cartel, for example to fix prices or commissions
  • claims for damages following a CMA decision that a company dominant in a local market has abused that dominance, for example by refusing rivals access to its essential infrastructure (such as a port, pipeline or bus station) or by pricing below cost to drive out rivals
  • actions for an injunction to stop threatened or on-going anti-competitive behaviour by a competitor, supplier or other business counterparty
  • applications for a declaration that the terms of a commercial agreement (such as a distribution agreement or a property lease) restrict competition in a local area and are therefore void and unenforceable

Our competition law expert, Matthew O’Regan, was recently interviewed by PaRR Global (a leading provider of global intelligence, data and analysis on competition law) about the likely impact of the formation of the Business and Property Courts. The related article, UK-wide competition claim filing will decrease costs – lawyers, may be found here.

View profile: Matthew O’Regan

If you would like to discuss any aspect of competition law litigation with Matthew, or to instruct him on a related matter, please contact his clerks:

 | 0117 923 4740

UK competition authorities step up their enforcement acitivity against cartels and other anti-competitive agreements

Matthew O'ReganMatthew O’Regan, a member of our competition team reviews the CMA’s recent civil and criminal investigations into cartels and other anti-competitive agreements, as well as the first Competition Act investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Compliance with competition law remains an important factor for businesses large and small. On 9 February 2017, the UK’s principal competition authority, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”), announced that it suspected a Poole-based distributor of lighting products of having broken the Competition Act 1998 by preventing retailers from freely determining their prices when selling online.

The CMA’s investigation is on-going. However, it forms part of an increase in enforcement activity by it. In its draft annual plan for 2017/2018, the CMA made clear that it intends to step up the rate of its enforcement of UK competition law, both in terms of the number of investigations it undertakes and the time each one takes. Businesses large and small will therefore see a significant increase in CMA enforcement activity against cartels and other anti-competitive practices, using both its civil and criminal powers.

These investigations have covered a wide range of products, including bathroom fittings, pharmaceuticals, furniture drawers, steel tanks, wall posters, airport car parking, fashion modelling and golf equipment. They have also covered many different types of conduct, including price-fixing cartels, market-sharing, bid-rigging, exchanges of commercially sensitive information, restrictive rules of trade associations and restrictions on on-line sales and price advertising.

The CMA has imposed significant fines on companies; others have avoided fines by informing the CMA of their illegal conduct. One individual has been disqualified as a company director and another awaits sentence after pleading guilty to having entered into a hardcore cartel agreement.

It is clear from recent cases and the CMA’s commitment to increased enforcement that business will remain under considerable antitrust scrutiny. Investigations can start in all sorts of ways: leniency applications, whistleblowing by employees, complaints by customers or competitors, and the CMA’s own intelligence-gathering activities.

Businesses, large or small, should therefore not be complacent and think that a CMA investigation will not happen to them. They should ensure that their commercial agreements and practices are compliant with UK and EU competition law. This includes past agreements and practices, which the CMA can also investigate. If there is any doubt as to compliance, legal advice should be taken. In appropriate cases, where there is evidence that a business has engaged in an illegal ‘hardcore’ cartel or resale price maintenance, making a leniency application to the CMA could gain it immunity from, or at least a reduction in, fines.


Download the full article: UK competition authorities step up their enforcement activity against cartels and other anti-competitive agreements

View profile: Matthew O’Regan

If you would like to instruct Matthew on a commercial or chancery matter please contact his clerks on: or 0117 923 4740

The Competition Appeal Tribunal: a new venue for challenging restrictive covenants?

Matthew O'ReganOne of the most significant changes to UK competition litigation introduced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 was the creation of a ‘fast track’ procedure for some cases brought in the Competition Appeal Tribunal (“CAT”). This procedure is particularly suitable for claims brought by individuals, micro-enterprises and SMEs seeking redress for harm suffered by anti-competitive behaviour in breach of UK and/or EU competition law, which are neither factually nor legally complex.

In a recent article published in European Competition Law Review, a leading competition law publication, specialist competition law barrister, Matthew O’Regan, considers how the fast track procedure may be used to challenge restrictive covenants contain in commercial property agreements and business sale agreements.

Matthew is a skilled competition litigator, undertaking work in the English and EU courts. He advises and represents clients on all types of competition disputes, including appeals in cartel and State aid cases, judicial reviews, follow-on damages actions and standalone disputes raising competition issues. “Matthew is quickly able to digest large amounts of information relating to very complex matters. His past experience as a solicitor means he is very pragmatic and proactive in his approach to advising clients.” Chambers UK, Competition Law (2017)

View article: The Competition Appeal Tribunal: a new venue for challenging restrictive covenants

This material was first published by Sweet & Maxwell Limited in O’Regan, The Competition Appeal Tribunal: a new venue for challenging restrictive covenants? [2016] 37 European Competition Law Review 393 and is published by agreement with the Publishers.

If you would like to discuss instructing Matthew on any related matter, please contact his clerks on 0117 923 4740 or email .

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at St John’s Chambers


Over the festive period, Chambers will be closed from 4.00pm on Friday, 23rd December and will re-open from 10.00am until 4.00pm on Thursday 29th December through to Friday 30th December.

We will open again for normal business hours on Tuesday, 3th January 2017.

For any emergency enquiries, please see our out of hours numbers.

St John’s Chambers is recognised for its expertise in 20 areas of law in the 2017 Chambers UK Guide

“Its team of highly skilled advocates regularly act in the most prominent, high-value and heavyweight disputes in the region under the instruction of some of the biggest industry players.” Chambers UK (2017)

Chambers UK logoWe are extremely grateful to our clients for providing such positive feedback which has resulted in us achieving ‘Top Ranked Set’ in the 2017 edition of Chambers UK.

41 of our barristers have been ranked across 20 major areas of law, including new rankings in the fields of competition law and Court of Protection. These new areas clearly identify St John’s as specialists in these fields with new addition Matthew O’Regan advising in a wide range of contentious and non-contentious competition law matters, and exceptional chancery barrister Alex Troup adept at handling Court of Protection work.

To find out what our clients say about our highly skilled advocates, please click on the individual areas of law links below. 

Agriculture & Rural Affairs
Commercial Dispute Resolution
Clinical Negligence
Court of Protection 
Family / Matrimonial
Health & Safety
Personal Injury
Professional Negligence
Real Estate Litigation
Restructuring / Insolvency

Our clerks have been described as extremely approachable, practical and will accommodate client’s needs. Commentary about our specialist teams include:

  • “Acts for both claimants and an increasing number of defendants in complex and high-profile claims. The set has an impressive reach in the South West and is praised by solicitors for its established team and ‘undoubtedly good reputation”‘on the Western Circuit. Its members handle a diverse range of challenging cases including catastrophic injury, surgical error and dental negligence.” Clinical Negligence
  • “St John’s has a wealth of experience in personal injury work. The set handles all manner of matters for claimants and defendants including accident at work and RTA claims. It has recently seen a sharp increase in industrial disease cases. Sources note that ‘they are very user-friendly and will always go the extra mile for you.’ ” Personal Injury
  • “One of Bristol’s leading sets of chambers for company advisory and advocacy work, with its barristers obtaining regular instruction in shareholder disputes, directors’ duties and directors’ disqualification cases. The set is praised by sources for its provision of ‘commercially minded advice’ and the ‘professional and incredibly flexible’ attitude of its barristers.” Company
  • “One of the leading chancery chambers on the Western Circuit, and is described as a very good set with contentious probate barristers who have very good knowledge of this area. It has a particular strength in traditional chancery, particularly complex property litigation, contentious trusts and inheritance disputes.” Chancery
  • “St John’s Chambers has unmatched firepower in this area. It is the foremost specialist construction chambers on the Western Circuit, with a notable profile in the South Wales market. Its team of highly skilled advocates regularly acts in the most prominent, high-value and heavyweight disputes in the region under the instruction of some of the biggest industry players. Members of St John’s demonstrate prowess across a broad range of construction matters including claims of defects, arbitration appeals and professional negligence-related cases.” Construction & Engineering
  • “Respected chambers with a growing commercial practice, praised for its consideration of practicalities such as costs and funding. One impressed interviewee states: ‘They have the feel of a heavyweight set and they are imaginative in offering solutions to help you settle a case.’ “ Commercial Dispute Resolution
  • “This outstanding set houses a dedicated team of property practitioners who work across a broad spectrum of commercial and residential property matters, handling such matters as development issues and agricultural disputes. ‘I find that they just go a bit further for the client.They dig deep, try hard for the clients, are thorough and look for a solution.’ ”  Property & Real Estate
  • “A very strong Bristol-based team capable of representing clients across the full spectrum of family law matters. Offers a robust matrimonial finance practice and has also built up significant experience in private and public ADR proceedings. The set is also highly regarded for its forward-thinking approach to client service.” Family Law 
  • “St John’s Chambers fields a substantial team, covering all the main contentious and non-contentious partnership bases and offering not only litigation, but also arbitration and mediation expertise. The set is especially noted for its handling of insolvency issues and is also particularly skilled in the farming, property and technology partnership spheres.” Partnership

Public law barristers host 6th annual Local Government Law Conference

Peter WadsleyBarristers from our public and administrative law team hosted their 6th annual Local Government Law Conference on Wednesday, 12th October 2016 in Bristol. The conference addressed a number of topical issues affecting those working and practising in the field of local government.

The conference was chaired by Peter Wadsley, who has been described by Chambers UK as the number one junior on the Western Circuit for planning and environmental work. It began with Professor Roy Light considering the Policing and Crime Bill, which is currently going through Parliament which contains a number of important licensing provisions.  After the break, Richard Stead addressed the potential liabilities of local authorities in nuisance claims arising from falling trees, tree root encroachment and flooding. Competition law expert Matthew O’Regan then went on to explore how authorities can ensure compliance with the EU State aid rules when funding projects or investing in commercial activities.

The afternoon session kicked off with up-and-coming planning barrister Philip Robson stepping in for Leslie Blohm QC. He discussed the position relating to deception and concealment in the planning system in light of the Court of Appeal judgment in Bonsall and Jackson [2015] EWCA Civ 1246. Philip then went on to run a workshop with Peter Wadsley about a frequent topic of debate at planning inquiries, the issue of 5 year housing land supply and its impact on decision making. David Fletcher was next to take the stand and discussed recent developments in Judicial Review. The conference ended with our experts leading a panel discussion about the topics discussed at the conference, inviting everyone to ask questions and share views and insights.

The conference attracted planning consultants, solicitors, and over 10 local authorities from the South West, South Wales and the Midlands. Delegates described the conference as; “interesting’ and speakers with ‘excellent delivery and knowledge’.  

You can download copies of some of the talks:

To find out more about our public and administrative law team, click here.

St John’s Chambers and Lucy Reed winners at Bristol Law Society Legal Awards

bls-annual-awards-email-stamps18We are delighted to announce that St John’s Chambers have been awarded ‘Chambers of the Year’ at the Bristol Law Society’s Annual Awards on Thursday, 13th October.  It was a very successful evening for St John’s with family barrister Lucy Reed also winning ‘Barrister of the Year’.

Attending from St John’s were Susan Hunter, Head of Chambers, Derek Jenkins, CEO, Elaine Jewell-Moore, Family Clerk, Paul Bennett, Commercial and Chancery Clerk , Alex Troup, Barrister, and their guests.

Having also won Chambers of the Year in 2015, these awards clearly identify Chambers continued commitment to the legal and wider community. Bristol Law Society’s annual awards recognise the important work in the Bristol legal community, celebrating their many successes and outstanding achievements.

Derek Jenkins, Chief Executive said: “Winning ‘Chambers of the Year’ award for two consecutive years demonstrates the excellent quality of legal services and range of expertise offered by St John’s Chambers. In the last 12 months Chambers has been involved in many landmark decisions, as well as leading initiatives designed to ensure that those who need justice are able to access it.” 

Lucy Reed said “I’m proud to be part of such a vibrant legal community here in Bristol, and I recognise that the support and contribution of colleagues both in and outside of chambers has been an important part of the background to my winning this award.”

Susan Hunter Head of Chambers said “We are very proud to have won this years Chambers of the Year Award and extremely pleased that Lucy’s outstanding contribution to her profession and the wider legal community has been recognised. Well done to everyone who was shortlisted, and the other winners – what a fabulous night!”

Bristol Law Society shortlist St John’s for ‘Chambers of the Year’ award

St John’s Chambers is delighted to announce that we have been shortlisted for ‘Chambers of the Year’ at the Bristol Law Society’s Annual Awards 2016, being one of three sets to be nominated. This clearly identifies Chambers continued commitment to the legal profession and wider community having won this award in 2015. For men