Chambers was founded in 1923 and can count, among its former Heads, two High Court Judges, an Attorney-General and a Chancellor of the Exchequer. The much-admired and much-missed, late Lord Justice Pumfrey was also a member of Chambers from 1975 to 1997.
From modest numbers in its early days, Chambers has grown in line with the growth in intellectual property litigation and now has 5 Silks and 11 Juniors as well as two leading Professors in the area of IP law.
Sir Stafford Cripps KC, a former Head of Chambers, was a celebrated barrister and politician of his age and went on to become Solicitor-General in the 1930s in the second Labour government. He took on a number of causes celebres while in practice and in 1934 acted pro bono for the miners (against Hartley Shawcross who appeared for the mine owners) in the Inquiry into the Gresford Colliery Disaster, one of Britain’s worst mining disasters. His experience in that inquiry allied to his strong socialist principles, led him to call for the nationalisation of the coal industry during the subsequent Parliamentary debate. During the Second World War, he went on prominent diplomatic missions to Russia and India and was Minister for Aircraft Production from 1942 to 1945. He went on to become Chancellor of the Exchequer in the late 1940s. He was a noted adversary of Sir Winston Churchill, who said of Sir Stafford “He has all of the virtues I despise and none of the vices I admire”.
Sir Lionel Heald QC succeeded Sir Stafford as Head of Chambers. He was himself a formidable politician over a 20-year political career and was Attorney-General in the post-war Churchill cabinet from 1951 to 1954. As Attorney-General, he led the Prosecution in the case of the Rillington Place murderer, John Reginald Christie and was Counsel at the 1954 Public Inquiry into the Comet Airliner Disasters.
Sir Patrick Graham was Head of Chambers until his elevation to the Bench in 1969 as the specialist High Court Patents Judge, when he was succeeded by Geoffrey Everington QC. Sir Patrick was the specialist Patents Judge until 1981. Both at the bar and on the bench Sir Patrick was deeply involved in the administration of justice relating to patents: together with Sir John Whitford, the other specialist Patents Judge of the time, he gave influential evidence to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on the extension of Legal Aid to tribunal proceedings in 1973.
Geoffrey Everington QC, Head of Chambers until his death in 1982, was a member of the Banks Committee set up to examine the patent system under the chairmanship of M.A.L. Banks, whose 1970 Report was influential in the United Kingdom’s adoption of the patent reforms in the Patents Act 1977. Under Geoffrey Everington, Chambers moved in 1975 from its former home in Queen Elizabeth Building to its present location at 11 South Square.
Stephen Gratwick QC, who succeeded Geoffrey Everington QC as Head of Chambers, was one of the foremost intellectual property advocates of his generation: so much so that it was even said that failing to instruct him was an act of negligence. When war broke out between Polaroid and Kodak over Kodak’s move into the one-step photography market in the late 1970s, it was to Stephen Gratwick that Kodak turned for its leading counsel. Polaroid was represented by Geoffrey Everington.
Many members of Chambers have gone on to hold judicial office. Sir Nicholas Pumfrey was appointed in 1997 to the Chancery Division of the High Court, subsequently becoming the senior specialist Patents Judge and, in November 2007, the first member of Chambers to be appointed a Lord Justice of Appeal.
The most recent past Head of Chambers, Sir Christopher Floyd QC, was appointed to the Chancery Division (to succeed Sir Nicholas Pumfrey) in November 2007 and in 2012 he was elevated to the Court of Appeal. Sir Richard Arnold QC was appointed to the Chancery Division in October 2008. His Honour Judge Hacon was appointed as the first presiding Judge of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court in December 2013 and in 2015 Henry Carr QC joined the High Court bench. Mr Justice Anthony Rogers, a junior member of Chambers in the early 1970s, is now Vice President of the Hong Kong Court of Appeal. Members of Chambers have been appointed to the Boards of Appeal at the European Patent Office and Peter Ford was the first Judge of the Patents County Court.
The current Head of Chambers is Iain Purvis QC sits as a Deputy High Court Judge in the Chancery Division including the Patents Court, a Civil Recorder and as a Judge of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court. He is an Appointed Person, hearing appeals from decisions of the Trade Marks Registry. He succeeds Michael Silverleaf QC who was Treasury Junior from 1991 to 1996, having succeeded Sir Nicholas Pumfrey, who held the post of Treasury Junior from 1987 to 1990.
One of Chambers’ first senior clerks was Mr Foot. He was succeeded by Walter Boulton, and in turn by Roy Nicholls. Frances Smith, Rochelle Haring, Martyn Nicholls have since all held or shared that post. Our present senior clerk is Ashley Carr.