A criminal chambers forced to close as a result of coronavirus has reinvented itself as a fully digital barristers’ set.
Charter Chambers, which was based in London and specialised in crime and regulation, formally closed on 31 October. It cited Covid-19, court underfunding and the imminent sale of its premises as reasons for shutting down.
However, the set has now rebranded itself as Crucible and has moved entirely online. The chambers has no premises and both barristers and clerks use UK-based cloud servers to operate remotely.
Neil Hawes QC, head of Crucible, said: ‘A few of us started a conversation about what it might be like to design a brand new chambers from the ground up…After all, what is a chambers? Stripped down, it is the people: our personal connection to our clients, our experience, quality, expertise and service we offer to our clients. These are the core things that really matter.’
Earlier this year, Simon Csoka QC, head of Libertas Chambers – a new virtual set – told the Gazette that lockdown has ‘made people realise how little they in fact used or needed the traditional chambers model’.
Csoka predicted that a large number of criminal chambers could go virtual in the wake of the pandemic.