John Benson QC and Head of Chambers noted as “extremely approachable and very thorough.”Legal 500, 2016
1MCB has a “particular strength in acting for legally aided clients.”Legal 500, 2017
The clerking team “is always helpful” as well as “polite and courteous”.Legal 500, 2016
“Talented yet down-to-earth barristers with deep expertise.”Legal 500, 2017
Clerks “often go above and beyond in order to facilitate the instruction of counsel”.Legal 500, 2017
“A business-driven approach and a focus on results.”Legal 500, 2017
“Niche expertise in areas such as animal welfare, actions against the police, and prison law.”Legal 500 2014
1MCB’s “expertise spans a range of areas, including employment, crime and public law”.Legal 500, 2016
Chambers is noted for its “flawless” clerking.Legal 500, 2016
The set is seen as “very friendly”.Legal 500 2014
Barristers are “knowledgeable” and “accomplished” in their various areas of practice.Legal 500, 2016
Clerks are “attentive” and have a “human touch”.Legal 500, 2017
The clerks are “approachable and proactive”.Legal 500 2014
Chambers was founded forty years ago with the aim of representing all sectors of the community, and in particular disadvantaged groups. Chambers has since grown and developed to cover many areas of practice, but we remain firmly committed to that original principle of ensuring that all members of society can enjoy access to justice through first-class representation.
We are committed to the representation of legally aided clients, which we believe to be critically important at a time when legal aid cuts continue to have a pernicious effect. Many of our members are additionally engaged in pro bono work, both in local communities and internationally.
Chambers has an informal and friendly working environment, and a diverse membership. We strive to be approachable and accessible for both professional and lay clients alike, whilst always ensuring that we offer the highest standards of preparation and representation.
Chambers was founded in 1977 as a radical set based at 8 King’s Bench Walk in Inner Temple, and quickly developed a reputation for civil liberties work – a reputation of which we remain proud. In November 2006, due to expansion in terms of members and workload, chambers moved to larger premises at 1 Mitre Court Buildings, remaining there until December 2014, before moving to newly refurbished premises offering upgraded IT facilities and improved disabled access at 15 New Bridge Street, our current home. To coincide with our move out of the Inn, chambers rebranded as 1MCB Chambers.
Chambers owes much of its present character to the leadership of Len Woodley QC, who was head of chambers for the twelve years from 1988 to 2000. Len’s genius was to be radical without being showy. His achievement was to be one of the first black barristers to be Queen’s Counsel, Recorder and Bencher of the Inner Temple, while retaining complete integrity and devotion to the service of his clients and fellow members of chambers. In keeping with Len’s endowment of the Leonard Woodley Scholarship, to be awarded to black or Asian students at the Inner Temple, we remain committed to facilitating access to the profession to groups which are underrepresented at the Bar.
In 1988, Chambers invited Nelson Mandela, who was then serving a life sentence, to be an honorary door tenant. The invitation, offered as a mark of solidarity with the South African freedom struggle, was accepted by Mr Mandela, and his name was on our board until he became President of South Africa in 1994.
Between 2001 and 2014, chambers was headed by Lord Gifford QC, a pioneer in human rights and founder of Britain’s first law centre. North Kensington Law Centre was the precursor to the community law centre movement with which 1MCB Chambers remains closely connected. But, as he would constantly tell his pupils and other members of his chambers, being radical means nothing if you are not better at the job than your opponent: steep yourself in the facts of your client’s case, and know the relevant law inside out. These are precepts which continue to be practised daily at 1MCB Chambers.
Since 2014, chambers has been headed by John Benson QC, who brings a depth of expertise in both criminal and civil work. 1MCB Chambers believes that excellence does not require narrow specialisation, and chambers prides itself on its multi-disciplinary character, with barristers who practise in one area of law being able to call on the expertise of colleagues in other teams. Whatever the area of expertise, members are all passionate about excellence in terms of representation, advocacy, and giving a voice to those who need it most.