About us

5RB is a leading set of media and communications law barristers who practise in all areas of media law including: defamation, privacy, confidence, data protection, harassment, media regulation, intellectual property, sport and human rights.

Types of work undertaken and most commonly provided legal services

The barristers at 5RB have wide experience in all divisions of the High Court and all appellate courts.  We also have experience in dealing with EU and European Convention on Human Rights aspects of media law, as well as in jurisdictions overseas. Junior tenants also appear in the County Court and in tribunals.

Members of 5RB provide the full range of legal services within our specialism of media and communications law, including: advocacy; advice – in conference and as written Opinions; the preparation of pleadings and other legal documents; drafting legal correspondence; advice to the media in respect of action by, and the decisions of, media regulators; and pre-publication advice – including ‘libel reading’ for newspapers, book publishers and broadcasters.

Members are used to being instructed at short notice to seek and resist pre-publication injunctions. They also appear in arbitrations and mediations and represent or advise clients before professional, regulatory and disciplinary tribunals.

As well as enjoying its pre-eminent reputation for defamation, misuse of private information, data protection, breach of confidence, malicious falsehood, trade libel and contempt of court, 5RB specialises across the broader spectrum of media, communication, entertainment, intellectual property and sports law, including:

  • freedom of information
  • reporting restrictions, particularly in criminal, family and matrimonial proceedings
  • protection from harassment and trespass
  • copyright
  • trade marks
  • passing off
  • image rights
  • judicial review, particularly of regulatory decisions
  • hearings before regulatory bodies
  • regulatory multimedia, broadcasting and telecommunications
  • the internet, including issues relating to publications on social media, data protection, and domain name disputes
  • human rights aspects of all these areas of law.

Members of the set write or contribute to the leading textbooks in the field: Gatley on Libel and Slander; The Law of Privacy and the Media; Arlidge, Eady & Smith on Contempt; Borrie & Lowe: The Law of Contempt; The Law of Photography and Digital Images;  Blackstone’s Guide to the Defamation Act ; Clerk & Lindsell on Torts.

Contact Us

The following are invited to contact the clerks on 020 7242 2902 for a quote for our barristers’ services or via email to clerks@5rb.com:

  • solicitors or other practising lawyers;
  • Licensed Access clients, who may either hold a licence issued by the Bar Standards Board, or be a member of a professional body which has been recognised by the Bar Standards Board; and
  • members of the public who wish to instruct a barrister under the Public Access scheme.  More details of 5RB’s Public Access work can be found here.

Fees

All fees charged by Members of Chambers are handled by our experienced clerking team, who will be happy to discuss the details of your case and provide you with a quote as soon as possible. Typical fee structures, depending on the type of case and the work required, include hourly rates and fixed fees.

We always aim to set out quotes clearly.  But if you receive your quote and there is something you do not understand, please contact either the clerk who has been handling your enquiry or the Senior Clerk, Andrew Love.

Timescales

Timescales for litigation, advice or other instruction vary depending on factors such as barristers’ availability, the type and complexity of the case or matter, the other side’s approach and court listing times.

5RB barristers

Barristers practise as sole practitioners and are registered with the Bar Standards Board of England and Wales. Barrister members offer their services in accordance with the Bar Standards Code of Conduct. The standard contractual terms on which services are provided can be found here.

Professional liability insurance

Barristers have professional liability insurance provided by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund Limited. The postal address of the Bar Mutual Management Company is 90 Fenchurch Street, London EC3M 4ST. Territorial coverage is worldwide, subject to the terms of cover of the Bar Mutual.

Regulatory and Complaints Information

Barristers at 5RB are regulated by The Bar Standards Board.  You can search the Barrister’s Register via the Bar Standards Board website here.  This shows whether a barrister has a current practising certificate and if a barrister has any disciplinary findings, which are published on the Bar Standards Board’s website in accordance with their policy. Alternatively, you can contact the Bar Standards Board on 020 7611 1444 or email ContactUs@BarStandardsBoard.org.uk.

5RB’s complaints procedure can be found here.  Our complaints procedure includes information about:

  • your right to complain to the Legal Ombudsman (LeO) – the independent body which can help you if you have complained to your lawyer and are not happy with their response;
  • how to complain to the Legal Ombudsman; and
  • any time limits for making a complaint.

You can also search the decision data on the the Legal Ombudsman’s website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk/raising-standards/data-and-decisions/#ombudsman-decision-data.  This shows legal providers who have been subject to an ombudsman’s decision in the previous 12 months, and whether the Ombudsman required the provider to give the consumer a remedy.  Alternatively, you can contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or e-mail enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk.

Barristers regulated by the Bar Standards Board

5 Certainties

  1. We are a leading set of media and communications law barristers with a proven track-record in defamation, privacy, data protection, harassment, blackmail, intellectual property, and all related fields.
  2. We have acted in most of the recent significant cases in these areas.
  3. We offer depth of talent from our junior barristers to our best-known KCs.
  4. We have an excellent and well-respected clerking team.
  5. We write and contribute to the leading textbooks in our field: Gatley on Libel and Slander; Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media, Arlidge, Eady & Smith on ContemptBorrie & Lowe: The Law of Contempt and The Law of Photography and Digital Images; and edit the leading specialist law reports, the Entertainment and Media Law Reports.

Directory listings

‘5RB is at the top of the media law bar. They are highly specialised, and always have counsel available.’

‘5RB is excellent. Amazing strength in depth. Without doubt the go-to set for defamation and privacy work but also for any case in the media and communications list.’

‘Definitely, the leading media and communications set. Just miles above the others. ‘

‘Unquestionably the top defamation set .’

‘5RB is a fantastic set with some of the finest legal minds. They are at the forefront of the industry and continue to impress across all areas.’

Legal 500 2021

5RB is described by interviewees as “the standout set” in the world of defamation and privacy. The chambers houses a deep bench of barristers who are noted for their expert handling of libel and privacy claims and related data protection matters, as well as emergency injunctions. Its members are instructed by claimants and defendants in the most prominent cases at all levels, including in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. In recent years, they have acted in a number of important cases on the interpretation of the Defamation Act 2013, the most notable being the case of Lachaux v Independent Print. They have defended media outlets including The Times, The Sun and the BBC, and have acted to protect the reputations of numerous high-profile individuals such as James Dyson.

Mediation

5RB offers a mediation service for the fast, effective and inexpensive resolution of media-related and other disputes. With the increasing drive from the government and the courts for parties to attempt alternative forms of dispute resolution (ADR), mediation now has to be seriously considered in virtually all disputes where proceedings are active or contemplated.

Mediation can be very successful, with over two-thirds of cases settling on the day and many others shortly afterwards.

Currently, two members of 5RB – William Bennett KC,  Godwin Busuttil – are accredited mediators and have active mediation practices.

They are able to act as mediators and to advise and represent parties who are contemplating or taking part in mediation.

About mediation

Mediation is a process whereby an independent, neutral person assists the parties in dispute to reach a settlement. During the mediation, which will not normally exceed one day, there are sessions with all parties present as well as private sessions between the mediator and just one party. The whole process is confidential; in particular, during the private sessions everything that is said to the mediator is strictly confidential and will not be communicated to the other party unless the party himself passes on the information or expressly authorises the mediator to do so.

The mediator endeavours to guide the parties to a settlement by, amongst other things, questioning them about their positions and their needs and discussing with them the various strengths and weaknesses of their cases. Because the discussions are totally confidential the parties can talk frankly, and safely indicate their hopes and fears to the mediator, who thereby gains a unique overview of the dispute that helps him to assist them to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

Until a binding agreement is reached each side is free to walk away.  If no agreement is reached, nothing said or produced in the mediation can be used in court proceedings or for any other purpose, subject to the normal rules of disclosure.

However, in most cases a settlement is reached. About 70% of mediations are successful on the day and, of those that are not, many are settled shortly afterwards.  One of the principal reasons for mediating is its high success rate, but there are many others. Large savings in cost, time and stress can be achieved; mediations can be arranged very quickly so that a dispute can be resolved in a matter of weeks; the costs of a mediation are relatively small; the process is not confrontational in the same way that direct negotiations and court hearings inevitably are. Because of the flexibility of the process, mediation allows and encourages parties to consider, discuss and agree a large number of possible solutions which are not available through the courts. Also as the solution is one which the parties reach themselves, with the help of the mediator, and is not imposed on them by the court, it is far more likely to satisfy both parties. In other words there is no loser – both parties win.

It is not surprising that in recent years the government and the courts have strongly encouraged parties to mediate rather than litigate and the courts have imposed costs sanctions on those who have unreasonably refused to do so.

Please contact the Clerks for details of availability and anticipated fees.

Public access

What is Public Access?

Public Access (sometimes referred to as “Direct Access”) allows members of the public and commercial and non-commercial organisations to instruct barristers directly on most civil matters, without having to go through a solicitor or another qualified intermediary first.

5RB have a team of barristers from KCs to Junior Counsel licensed to undertake public access work. Our Public Access team have all completed the Bar Council’s accredited course.

The benefits of instructing 5RB on a Public Access basis is that your case will be reviewed by a specialist barrister. This could save you both time and money.

Services we offer

As specialists in defamation, privacy, media, communication, data protection, harassment, entertainment and sports law we accept instructions in appropriate circumstances from individuals and organisations (or their agents).

Members of 5RB’s Public Access team are used to dealing with individuals and organisations including broadcasters; newspapers, magazines, books and music publishers of all sizes; media, communications and sports regulatory bodies; and local authorities. We also regularly deal with public relations, media and sports agents directly.

This means that we can 

  • give expert legal advice on specific issues or disputes,
  • act in negotiations,
  • draft documents (including correspondence and statements), and
  • advise you on the best strategy and approach to be taken.

Please note that, before instructing a barrister at 5RB you should be aware that if the initial review is positive, taking the matter to litigation will most likely require the services of a solicitor’s firm. The reason for this is that barristers are currently restricted by the rules of the Bar Standards Board on how much involvement they can have in running litigation directly. For example, they cannot serve or issue documents at court or draft witness statements. Should the case proceed to court we will recommend several specialist firms of solicitors with competitive rates.

The process

If you would like to instruct a barrister via Public Access, please complete the 5RB Public Access Briefing Form attaching any relevant documentation and either email or post to the clerks at 5RB.

Upon receipt, a 5RB Public Access barrister will look at the details at no initial cost to you to establish whether the matter is suitable for Public Access. You will then be notified whether it is a matter we can pursue on your behalf or not.

If the barrister can take the matter on you will be contacted by the Clerks who will discuss the likely timescale and cost with you. All fees charged by members are handled by our experienced clerking team. Typical fee structures, depending on the type of case and the work required, include hourly rates and fixed fees.

Once a fee and timescale has been discussed , you will be sent a letter of confirmation setting out the scope of work to be completed, the applicable fee and the specific date by which the services contracted for will be provided.  If you agree with the proposed terms  you will be asked to sign the letter and return it to us.

Please note that fees will need to be paid and cleared before a member of chambers can start working on your case. All amounts will have VAT applied.

If our barrister is not prepared to take the matter on, you will be informed in writing. After each piece of work is completed, as well as before any new piece of work is accepted, the member of chambers you have instructed will continue to review and consider whether the matter remains suitable for Public Access.

If you would like to discuss the matter first, please contact one of our clerks, Andrew Love or Antony Braeger, on +44 (0)20 7242 2902. They will be happy to advise you as to which members of chambers are able to accept Public Access instructions, their seniority, availability and fee rates.

The Bar Standards Board publishes information for the public about how to instruct a barrister, which can be found here.

The two other ways to instruct barristers are as follows:

  1. Professional Client Access. Solicitors, qualified in-house lawyers and other authorised litigators may instruct barristers directly either on behalf of clients or on their own account in any matter for all types of work.
  2. Licensed Access. Licensed access is a licensing system whereby organisations or individuals who are suitable to instruct barristers because they have expertise in particular areas of law can apply to the Bar counsel to be licensed to instruct barristers directly in those areas. The licensed access licensing scheme ensures that the referrer has the skills necessary and the facilities available to instruct the Bar directly.

Members of 5RB can also undertake Professional and Licensed access work.

Overseas clients

Barristers of 5RB provide advocacy and advisory services direct to overseas lawyers, corporate clients and individuals in various countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Nigeria, and the West Indies.

We can:

  • be instructed directly for timely, cost-effective advisory services within our specialist areas of law in England and Wales and the European Court of Human Rights;
  • advise and assist in litigation preparation;
  • provide specialist advice and assistance on the drafting, interpretation and enforceability of contracts governed by the law of England and Wales and other common law countries;
  • provide a 24/7 rapid response for all your pre-publication and urgent injunction issues;
  • provide mediation, alternative dispute resolution and arbitration services.

We understand how important it is to establish a relationship prior to need; therefore we encourage you to contact us to learn how we can help BEFORE the need arises.

Contact us at clerks@5rb.com for further information.

Pro bono

5RB is a proud member of ‘Friends in Law‘ a scheme launched by the Bar Pro Bono Unit and the Free Representation Unit. As a Friends in Law member, 5RB contributes financial support and pro bono work by volunteers.

Chambers considers that provision of a degree of free legal advice and representation  is an essential part of a barrister’s practice in accordance with the general standards and ethics of the Bar. The proportion of time which individual members of chambers devote to pro bono work varies from member to member but the practice of many of the junior tenants includes a significant amount of low or unpaid work.

Some examples of the kind of services which 5RB barristers provide free of charge include:

  • providing legal advice and representation in county courts and employment tribunals on a variety of matters on behalf of Islington Legal Advice Centre
  • providing advice and representation through the Bar Pro Bono Unit
  • project work on behalf of the Bar Human Rights Committee and Commonwealth Press Union
  • legal training for the Council of Europe and other international organisations
  • advisory opinions and representation in specific deserving cases where funding is otherwise not available

5RB hosts an annual quiz to raise funds for the Bar Pro Bono Unit and FRU. Members of 5RB also take part in the London Legal Walk each year.

Diversity data

In line with BSB requirements, 5RB periodically carries out a data diversity survey of members and staff.

In order to maintain the anonymity of respondents, our diversity data cannot be published. However, we do use this data to inform our practices.

History

The Chambers of 5RB were founded by the distinguished jury advocate, Sir Valentine Holmes KC, whose forensic successes in a number of famous libel trials laid the foundations for what is now one of our main areas of practice. Since the time of Sir Valentine Holmes KC, many celebrated and notable lawyers have been members of Chambers and have moved on to high judicial office. Lord Justice Warby, Mr Justice Nicklin, Sir Charles Gray and Sir Michael Tugendhat are the most recent examples.

We moved from The Temple to 10 South Square, Gray’s Inn in 1972. Membership of 5RB significantly increased, reflecting the growing demand in our fields of practice which precipitated the move in early 1994 to accommodation within the Inn at 5 Raymond Buildings.

In January 2014 5RB moved, again within the Inn, to 5 Gray’s Inn Square. This relocation offers 5RB more space and room to grow.