Anthony Trace – Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Barrister of the Year

Looking at this year’s winner of the Insolvency and Corporate Recovery Barrister of the Year award, Lawyer Monthly here talks to Anthony Trace QC about his success and triumph in the legal world.


Firstly, as a young scholar what initially prompted you to become a lawyer and subsequently a barrister?

I had two excellent tutors at Cambridge, RWM Dias and Dr Kolbert (now His Honour Dr Kolbert). They were inspiring tutors and teachers and became firm friends of mine. They encouraged me to be called to the Bar.


How did you come to specialise in insolvency and corporate recovery over the course of your career and how would you say this segment has changed you as a person, and as a professional?

Insolvency and corporate recovery is a fascinating area, and affects large parts of business life. I found that the solicitors that I worked with in this are clever and interesting, and I would single out Rachel Anthony and Nigel Barnett of Dentons, Simon Ridpath and Chris Harlowe of Speechlys, and Tony Bugg of Linklaters.

From the beginning of your walk in the legal world, what do you believe to be the most impacting precedents you have set and instigated in the field of insolvency and corporate recovery?

In Re Jeffrey S Levitt [1992] 2 WLR 975, I succeeded in establishing that an officer of an insolvent company could not refuse to answer questions on the ground that he/she might incriminate himself/ herself.

In Dubey & Thompson (Administrators of Farepak Foods & Gifts Ltd) v Revenue & Customs [2007] 2 BCLC I succeeded in persuading the court to lay down principles governing the distribution by administrators of an insolvent company of former funds of former customers of the company held by the administrators.


Since taking Silk in 1998, what were your initial goals for your practice and how have you managed to achieve these through the years?
My initial goals were to keep a broad practice because often issues in insolvency and corporate recovery involve other areas of law. I achieved that by making sure that I was aware of developments in other areas and I took on cases, where appropriate, in other areas of law.


In this time, what would you say have been the biggest personal and professional challenges you have faced, and how did you go about navigating these?

The biggest personal and professional challenges we’re keeping up to date with, are the many developments in the law and practice of corporate recovery and insolvency.


As well as being this year’s barrister of the year in insolvency and corporate recovery, you have been the beneficiary of numerous awards and titles; to what extent would you say these incite confidence and positivity towards your professional achievements?

Winning other awards gives clients, instructing solicitors and insolvency professionals, confidence in one’s abilities. Also, given that insolvency and corporate recovery can involve other areas of law, and the time and effort in keeping abreast of other areas of the law, it is motivating to see that effort recognised.


What would you say have been the biggest influences or educational engagements that have helped you achieve your current status and reputation?

I would single out The Honourable Mr Justice Wood, Lord Justice Rimer (who was my pupil master), the Honourable Mr Justice Charles, the Honourable Mr Justice Blackburne, and my former Head of Chambers, the late EWH Christie, as my biggest influences at the Bar.

Amongst my instructing solicitors, there are too many people to mention by name; I have enjoyed working with them all. As to educational engagements, I much enjoyed my time as Secretary of the Chancery Bar Association and the many talks that I heard and the many people that I worked with. I have also given many talks myself, all of which helped me focus on particular issues, and I particularly enjoyed the question and answer sessions that followed such talks.


Do you have a motto or quote that has inspired you throughout your legal career?
“One brings integrity into this world; it is important to carry it with you until the end.”


What will be your potential future goals from here-on and how do you intend to confront them?
I would like to use my experience from 35 years at the Bar to widen my practice as an arbitrator and to develop a practice as a mediator alongside my practice as a litigator. I intend to further these goals by a lot of determination and hard work, which has characterised my 35 years at the Bar to date. I do not want to sound boastful, but if I set my mind to something I succeed in doing it.


Is there anything else you would like to add?

I have had an enormous amount of fun in my 35 years at the Bar and I have felt privileged to work with the talented advocates I have seen and worked with and the talented instructing solicitors and insolvency practitioners that I have met and worked with. I have also felt privileged to see/meet/ work with these people and hope that it will continue. I have also appeared before very distinguished Arbitrators and Judges, and I also hope that this will continue