In the latest consolidation in the commercial bar, national set St Philips Chambers has announced a merger with specialist shipping and commercial set Stone Chambers to create one of the country’s largest multi-disciplinary sets. 

The merger, which takes effect from 1 August, will create a set with 189 full-time barristers plus a number of door tenants and associates. It will be known as St Philips Stone Chambers. 

Avtar Khangure QC (pictured), head of chambers at St Philips, said the merger would expand the set’s London presence as well as add a new area of practice and achieve economies of scale.

St Philips, originally Birmingham-based, has recently expanded to Leeds and opened an office in Gower Street, London two years ago.

This will now relocate to Stone Chambers’ premises at 4 Field Court, Gray’s Inn, which will provide ‘a platform for further growth’. 

Khangure said the merger ‘started with an off-the-cuff remark which turned out to make good sense’.

The merger will allow Stone Chambers to make use of St Philips’ 50-strong back-office team in Birmingham. However he said there are no current plans to drop the chambers model in favour of a new-style entity or alternative business structure.

He said he was confident the independent bar had a future ‘though I think the very small sets will struggle’. 

Stone’s heads of chambers, Elizabeth Blackburn QC and Vasanti Selvaratnam QC, said: ‘The merger will put us in the enviable position of being part of one of the largest sets in the country, with all the support and infrastructure that comes with that, while continuing to provide our boutique service in shipping and international commercial disputes.’

The announcement follows the April merger of commercial sets 3 Stone Buildings and 13 Old Square Chambers – a move partly inspired by last year’s collapse of 11 Stone Buildings.