Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Sir Gary Hickinbottom, Grace Cheng and James Shaerf  Join 39 Essex Chambers

Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Sir Gary Hickinbottom, Grace Cheng and James Shaerf Join 39 Essex Chambers


CategoryNews Author Grace Cheng, Gary Hickinbottom, James Shaerf Date

We are delighted to announce that four new members are to join Chambers with immediate effect, namely Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Sir Gary Hickinbottom, Grace Cheng and James Shaerf.

Justice L. Nageswara Rao is a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India and only the seventh person to be elevated directly from the Bar to the Supreme Court. He practised law from 1984 and was appointed Senior Counsel in 2000. He served as Additional Solicitor General of India from August 2003 to May 2004 and, again, from August 2013 to December 2014. He was elevated to the Supreme Court of India in May 2016. During his tenure, he was party to over 700 judgments, authoring over 220 of them.

Following his retirement in June 2022, he has focused on dealing with domestic and international arbitrations and as a Door Tenant at 39 Essex Chambers will be accepting appointments as arbitrator.

Dipen Sabharwal QC, Partner, White & Case LLP says “As one of very few counsel directly appointed to the Indian Supreme Court, Justice Rao brings with him formidable experience of both arguing and deciding cases at the highest level.  He is an outstanding addition to 39 Essex Chambers.”

Darius Khambata SC, One Essex Court adds “Justice Nageswara Rao, was one of only a few direct bar appointees to the Supreme Court. He made a fine judge of the Supreme Court delivering several leading judgements and without fanfare. He is low key and endowed with an excellent forensic mind which he displayed in full measure as a leading senior member of the bar before his elevation. I’m delighted to learn he will join 39 Essex Chambers.

Sir Gary Hickinbottom, a former Judge of the Court of Appeal, also joins Chambers as a Door Tenant. During his distinguished judicial career, Sir Gary was appointed to a succession of judicial posts in both the court and tribunal systems including Designated Civil Judge for Wales, Chief Social Security and Child Support Commissioner, Chief Pensions Appeal Commissioner, President of the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and Deputy Senior President of Tribunals, before being made a High Court Judge and then a Judge of the Court of Appeal.  He also sat as a High Court Judge in the Falkland Islands.  From April 2023, he has been appointed President of Welsh Tribunals.  He has chaired a variety of committees and working parties including the project board on judicial training which resulted in the formation of the Judicial College; and the working party on litigants-in-person resulting in “The Hickinbottom Report” which was the basis for reforms in the way in which unrepresented parties were engaged in claims in which they were involved. He retired from the Bench in 2021 to conduct a Commission of Inquiry into corruption and governance in the British Virgin Islands.

Sir Gary holds a Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration, has been a registered mediator since 1991 and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators since 1995.  He is a Past Master Arbitrator of the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators.  He is a member of the FA Safeguarding Panel, and of the Sports Resolutions Arbitrators’ Panel and National Safeguarding Panel regularly chairing hearings relating to a wide variety of sports. At 39 Essex Chambers, Sir Gary will be accepting appointments as arbitrator, mediator and the chair of disciplinary or safeguarding proceedings, and will also conduct independent investigations and inquiries.

Grace Cheng and James Shaerf join 39 Essex Chambers as tenants.

Grace Cheng was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 2016 and is a qualified Hong Kong solicitor. She has rights of audience before the AIFC Court (Kazakhstan) and DIFC Courts (Dubai), and has also been granted full registration as a registered foreign lawyer at the Singapore International Commercial Court. Grace previously worked at Slaughter and May, and has taught law at a number of universities in the UK and internationally. She has an extensive practice in the fields of administrative and public, commercial, construction, employment and sports law. Grace has also received a number of appointments as an arbitrator and adjudicator, and is included in multiple panels and databases of arbitrators and adjudicators globally.

James Shaerf brings more than a decade’s experience of practice in commercial litigation and international arbitration. After qualifying as a solicitor, James started his career as a solicitor at Quinn Emanuel in London. After four years, he joined the Paris office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer where he remained for eight years. His practice there focused on English law commercial arbitrations and international commercial arbitrations under foreign laws and several investment treaty arbitrations, handling disputes in a variety of sectors including oil and gas, defence, power plants, construction and mining. He was listed in Who’s Who Legal: Arbitration as a “Future Leader” in 2020 and was called to the Bar in 2021. At 39 Essex Chambers, James’s practice will focus on international arbitration, commercial and construction law.

Lindsay Scott, Chief Executive of 39 Essex Chambers, says:

“It is a very exciting time for Chambers. We are delighted that we will be joined by such an incredible array of both domestic and international talent. Justice Rao and Sir Gary Hickinbottom join with extensive experience both from their legal, and very distinguished, judicial careers. They will prove a great asset to Chambers as we continue to build on our domestic and international arbitration services. We are also delighted to welcome Grace and James to our Commercial, Construction and International Arbitration Group. Their expertise is an excellent fit and will allow us to further enhance our offering in this arena.”


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