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St Philips Commercial

St Philips Commercial

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:21

‘Star at the Bar 2013 - Ali Tabari’

Ali Tabari has been ranked in the prestigious 'Stars at the Bar 2013' list compiled by Legal Week. The annual list showcases the commercial and chancery Bar's young talent based on recommendations by colleagues and clients, and this year the listed 15 barristers were drawn from a pool of over 300 candidates. Ali was rated 'Highly Commended', and was the only barrister practising outside of London to be ranked. 

This is the second time in three years that that a member of St Philips Commercial team has been included in this list.  Carl Garvie appeared in the 2011 list and Ali's ranking highlights not only the quality and strength in depth available at St Philips but also the high regard in which our members are held by our clients.

Ali practises in commercial and chancery work, with a particular interest in banking/financial services, insolvency and professional liability. He is also the co-ordinator of chambers' Junior Commercial Team

Please click here to view Ali’s profile


Friday, 15 November 2013 10:54

St Philips London Official Opening

On Wednesday 6th November 2013 St Philips London was officially opened by The Right Honourable Lord Hughes of Ombersley, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. Lord Hughes welcomed St Philips to London in a ceremony attended by senior members of the Judiciary, members of chambers and friends.

Speaking at the opening, head of chambers, Kevin Hegarty QC, said; "the expansion of St Philips into London is a natural step in reinforcing our position as a national set." He added, "the many able and specialist barristers within St Philips would be in a stronger position to attract work nationally and internationally and develop practices of the highest quality."

If you would like any more information on St Philips London, including information on how to join our multi-award winning team, please contact chief clerk This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">Joe Wilson.

Tuesday, 01 October 2013 12:46

St Philips Opens in London


St Philips Chambers opens its London office in Gower Street in the heart of Bloomsbury on 1st October. St Philips London will focus on commercial, employment, regulatory, privately funded crime and family work. The 175-strong set, one of the largest in the UK, will be seeking to recruit specialists to service its growing London client base. 

Facilities at the 2,500 square foot office include multi-media technology, audio-video conferencing, mediation and seminar rooms.  Clive Read, real estate partner of SGH Martineau, advised St Philips during the acquisition of the premises.

St Philips London has two experienced clerks in place, Sam Collins who transferred from St Philips Birmingham and Chris Young previously of Crown Office Chambers.  Both are supported by the 50-strong central clerking and support team in Birmingham led by chief clerk Joe Wilson. Kevin Hegarty QC, head of chambers, said; “Our reputation as a national and international set, combined with the need to be closer to our London client base, dictated that time had come to have a permanent presence in the capital. This development is part of our strategic plan to offer an exceptional team of barristers who will be the client’s first choice wherever they are in the world. Clients in the Midlands and London have already responded positively to our plans.”

Within six months St Philips will also formalise its planned merger with alliance partner Chancery House Chambers in Leeds and move into new state-of-the-art city centre premises.

Thursday, 26 September 2013 12:50

Double Nomination Honour For John Randall QC

Head of St Philips Commercial, John Randall QC, has received nominations for two prestigious legal prizes.

He has been shortlisted at The Legal 500 UK Awards 2013 in the category for Regional Silk of the Year, the winners of which will be announced on Wednesday 2nd October.

John has also been shortlisted to appear in The Chambers 100 UK Bar Guide. The guide considers only those members of the Bar that are top ranked in The Chambers Bar Guide, then publishes a comprehensive list of the top 100 silks and the top 100 juniors at the UK Bar.

These honours follow hot on the heels of the latest edition of the Legal 500 where John is “recommended for his ‘intellect, extensive experience, and excellent advocacy’.”

Ed Pepperall QC will be speaking alongside Professor Dominic Regan at a half day seminar organised by Birmingham Law Society. The event is being held on Thursday 3rd October 2013 and is designed to provide an update on how Lord Justice Jackson's reforms, that were introduced earlier this year, have impacted on the way litigation is conducted and how the associated costs are funded and recovered.

For full details please click here

Breakfast Seminar: An essential Update on Jackson with Professor Dominic Regan and Ed Pepperall QC

Ed Pepperall QC - As a member of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee, Ed has been at the heart of implementing the Jackson reforms. A regular speaker on all things Jackson, he is the only barrister member of the sub-committee reviewing the rules on costs management and the Commercial Court exemption. Ed is a commercial silk specialising in contractual disputes, often arising from business sales. He also handles all matters arising from the departure of senior executives from claims in restraint of trade, confidentiality or for diversion of business to unfair prejudice petitions.

Ed is also a member of Lexis-Nexis' Panel of Experts for Dispute Resolution and of its Consultant Editorial panel for its PSL product.

To view Eds full CV click here

St Philips are delighted to announce that they have once again been short listed for the prestigious Chambers and Partners ‘Regional Set of the Year’ award 2013. The awards is hosted by Chambers & Partners who identify leading Chambers, Silks and Juniors who have excelled in their respective fields.

This nomination demonstrates the strength and depth of expertise at St Philips and is recognition for its forward thinking and innovative approach to providing legal services.

The awards will take place at The London Hilton on Park Lane London, on 3rd October 2013.

Salomon v Salomon Survives - Prest v Petrodel – The Supreme Court Rejects Attempts to Pierce the Corporate Veil – And Points Out That Attempts to Do So Are Usually Unnecessary Andrew Charman, St. Philips Chambers

  The Supreme Court decision in Prest v Petrodel Resources Limited [2013] UKSC 34 was long awaited, and its delivery was met with wide media coverage.  Most of that media coverage, at least on the day of the decision, was misleading or wrong. 

Broadsheet newspapers rushed to report on their websites and Twitter accounts that the Supreme Court pierced the corporate veil.  It didn’t.  Indeed, the case itself is a fine example of the important general point made by Lord Sumption, that when considering the piercing of the corporate veil, “in almost every case where the test is satisfied, the facts will in practice disclose a legal relationship between the company and the controller which will make it unnecessary to pierce the corporate veil.”  

The case was an appeal by a wife who had brought a claim against companies controlled by the husband, seeking to have properties held by the companies transferred her in part satisfaction of an award of financial relief ordered in her favour.  The Court of Appeal had refused to order the transfer.  The Court considered three possible legal bases as to why the fact that the properties were held by the companies and not the husband might not be a bar to their being transferred to the wife:

    • That the case was within the exceptional category of cases where the Court may disregard the corporate veil in order to give her effective relief.


    • That Section 24 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 confers a distinct power to disregard (or ‘pierce’) the corporate veil in matrimonial relief cases.


  • That in the circumstances of the case, the companies had received and held the properties on trust for the husband


The first two, which would have involved the piercing of the corporate veil, were rejected.  The third, which was not really argued but had been pleaded, was successful


A seven member Supreme Court considered these questions.  The result was unanimous on all three issues.  The lead judgment was that of Lord Sumption, with whom all six agreed as well as adding some observations of their own on one or more of the questions.  It is lucid and easy to read (for a Supreme Court judgment!) and a majority of it is devoted to the first question. 

The Piercing of the Corporate Veil Under the General Law

Lord Sumption observed that the separate personality and property of a company is fundamental to English law and also to economics, as it is the basis of limited companies, and they in turn have been the principal unit of commercial life for more than a century.

Lord Sumption also noted that the term “piercing the corporate veil” is widely misused and that the decided cases considering it are both confusing and confused; the area is “heavily burdened by authority, much of it characterised by incautious dicta and inadequate reasoning”. No doubt this is at least in part because “most of the statements of principle in the authorities are obiter because the corporate veil was not pierced” and “most cases in which the corporate veil was pierced could have been decided on other grounds”.

Lord Sumption analysed the existing authorities and identified two distinct principles pursuant to which courts had in the past stated that the corporate veil may be pierced; the concealment principle and the evasion principle.

The concealment principle has been applied where there has been the imposition of a company, or several companies, to conceal the real identity of wrongdoers. The court will always identify the real wrongdoers where their real identity is relevant. However, this is not a case of piercing the corporate veil, but merely lifting it. The court does not disregard the “façade” but looks behind it. Accordingly, cases which claim to be or have been regarded as cases where the veil has been ‘pierced’ pursuant to what is in truth the application of the concealment principle, are not cases about the piercing of the veil. The best known of these cases is Gilford Motor Co Ltd v Horne [1933] Ch. 935.

It is the evasion principle which may justify the court piercing the corporate veil. It applies where a person is under an existing legal obligation or liability or subject to an existing legal restriction which he deliberately evades or the enforcement of which, he deliberately frustrates, by interposing a company under his control. As indicated above, where the necessary facts are made out, there will usually be a relationship between the company and its controller which renders the piercing of the veil unnecessary. It was also made clear that it will not be appropriate to pierce the corporate veil in any case where it is not strictly necessary to do so. In Prest the properties in issue were transferred to the companies long before the divorce proceedings, so the test could not be satisfied.

Some of the other judgments were wary of confining the circumstances when the corporate veil could be pierced so narrowly, but all agreed with Lord Sumption and none put forward any other test.

Section 24 Gives No Broader Basis for Piercing the Corporate Veil

The question of whether section 24 of the 1973 Act means that a broader principle may be applied in matrimonial proceedings (the basis of the decision at first instance) was roundly rejected. Lord Sumption met this argument with much the same incredulity as it has generally received from by company and chancery practitioners, and indeed anyone aware of the consequences for ordinary commercial dealings if it were right. Lord Sumption made the clear statement that “Courts exercising family jurisdiction do not occupy a desert island in which general legal concepts are suspended or mean something different. If a right of property exists, it exists in every division of the High Court and in every jurisdiction of the county courts. If it does not exist, it does not exist anywhere.” He could not have made his point clearer.

The Answer On the Facts – Basic Trust Principles and Lots of Adverse Inferences

On the facts of the case, all the justice was on the side of the wife and it was reassuring that the Supreme Court was able to do justice applying well-established trust principles. It found that the circumstances in which the properties were acquired meant that they were held by the companies on trust for the husband. Therefore, the beneficial interest in them was available to meet his obligations to his wife. There was nothing novel or new about this analysis, which is a matter of ordinary well-established trust law. However, the Supreme Court was able to reach such a conclusion because it went further than previous cases in being willing to draw inferences adverse to the husband and to the companies from their failure to put forward evidence, or to respond to the evidence put forward by the wife.

It is this willingness to draw adverse inferences from the deliberate failure to respond to the other side’s case and to put forward evidence contradicting it, that is an extension of the previous law and provides some grounds for excitement for matrimonial lawyers. A consequence of the decision in Prest will be the greater willingness of courts, and family courts in particular, to draw such adverse inferences. This should make it harder for individuals to use their companies to evade their liabilities and responsibilities to their spouses and others.


It is good that the wife was able to have recourse to the properties held by the companies in this case, and reassuring that she was able to do so by reliance on well-established trust principles, leaving the corporate veil fully intact and the circumstances when it can be pierced clarified.

Andrew Charman’s CV can be viewed by clicking here

Restraint of trade & commercial fraud claim. Principles applicable to findings of civil contempt against companies, company directors & individual employees for breach of undertakings given to settle a trial.

23 May 2013 

Ed Pepperall QC

Friday, 14 June 2013 00:00

'Inside Commercial' newsletter

This is St Philips Commercial’s first E-News of 2013, and we have plenty of news to send! Do take a look at this our new publication, with articles from each of our new specialist teams along with full details of our summer seminars and other news about St Philips Commercial. 

Click here to browse the newsletter

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