Fountain Court is Matthew Gearing's new destination
Allen & Overy arbitration co-head turns his back on Essex Court following the Chinese sanctions
Allen & Overy's outgoing co-head of international arbitration, Matthew Gearing QC, is all set to join London's leading set Fountain Court.
Gearing turned his back on Essex Court Chambers following sanctions imposed on it by the Chinese authorities last month. He had earlier announced his intention to join Essex Court.
Gearing will join Fountain Court towards April end following his retirement from Allen & Overy after spending 24 years with the firm, based in both London and Hong Kong.
Gearing is a former chair of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. His announcement to join the Bar had been widely welcomed.
Essex Court has seen three silks with international practices exit the set since the sanctions were imposed. They include arbitration lawyer Vernon Flynn QC, Toby Landau QC and junior silk Jern-Fei Ng QC within days of sanctions imposed by the Chinese foreign ministry in retaliation to sanctions imposed by the UK government on China for human rights abuses against the Uighurs.
Gearing's decision to join Fountain Court is seen as a coup as Fountain Court had been working of late towards expanding its roster of arbitrators. It had received a shot in the arm last when the former Supreme Court justice, Lord Wilson, joined the set as an arbitrator.
"Matthew's addition strengthens Fountain Court's well-respected international arbitration practice, and demonstrates the set's broader and continued international growth, particularly in Asia," Fountain Court said in a statement.
Fountain Court has acted for major Chinese clients, like many of London's leading sets, including state-owned enterprises, in both onshore and offshore proceedings.
Gearing has confirmed his intention to join Hong Kong's Temple Chambers later in the year, where, if the move is confirmed by the Special Administrative Region's Courts and the Hong Kong Bar Association, he would reunite with HKIAC's current co-chair, Rimsky Yuen SC, the former Hong Kong secretary of justice.
Essex Court was one of four UK entities and nine individuals named on the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs' sanctions list.
Four members of Essex Court had written a legal opinion, commissioned by The Global Legal Action Network, in February this year in which they said that there was 'a credible case´ that acts carried out by China in Xinjiang 'amounted to crimes against humanity and the crime of genocide', leading to the Chinese sanction.