The precise date on which Chambers was founded has been lost in time, but can be traced at least to the end of the Second World War. David Maxwell Fyfe KC was Attorney-General at the end of the War and became the main UK prosecutor at Nuremburg. When he returned to the Bar he practised, together with his then junior John Barrington, from 1 Temple Gardens. David Maxwell Fyfe was appointed Lord Chancellor (as Lord Kilmuir) in 1954: John Barrington was appointed a County Court Judge. In the same year the depleted set was joined by a group led by John Thompson QC (later Mr Justice Thompson). He was the editor of Redgrave’s Factories Acts and was the doyen of the Personal Injury Bar. This was the start of Chambers’ recognition as experts in this class of work.
John Thompson was appointed a High Court Judge in 1961. Over the years he has been succeeded as Head of Chambers by George Bean QC (later Mr Justice Bean), Colin Fawcett QC, Hugh Carlisle QC, Guy Sankey QC, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, Ian Burnett QC (now The Rt Hon Lord Burnett of Maldon, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales), Nigel Wilkinson QC, Robin Tam QC and currently Keith Morton QC. Patrick Mayhew QC (later Lord Mayhew of Twysden) followed in Maxwell Fyfe’s footsteps as Attorney-General (and later becoming Secretary of State for Northern Ireland), as did Dominic Grieve QC.
Chambers’ work has broadened with appointments to the Treasury Panels of civil practitioners. Members of Chambers were instructed in the Railway Inquiries and subsequent litigation and became recognised as leading players in prosecutions under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, which cases began in the 1990s. The Treasury work has widened to include all aspects of public law, including immigration and anti-terrorism.
Chambers’ size has increased from its initial handful and it has taken on extra accommodation. In 2010 the opportunity was taken to reposition the Clerks’ Room in Harcourt Buildings and this led to it being renamed as Temple Garden Chambers. The success and growth of Chambers will continue.