Monckton Chambers celebrates Paul Lasok’s career on his retirement

18 May 2016 | by Daiva Eitkeviciene

Paul Lasok QC, Monckton Chambers’ long-standing Head of Chambers, has retired from practice to focus on his academic writing and most immediately completing ”Lasok’s European Court Practice and Procedure”, the third edition of which is to be published later this year by Bloomsbury.

Paul Lasok spent 14 years as Head of Monckton Chambers, 10 of which as sole Head, before handing over the leadership to Tim Ward QC and Philip Moser QC on 14 March 2016.

Under Paul Lasok’s direction, Monckton Chambers grew substantially, trebling its fee income in 10 years from £9.5m in 2006 to a current reported turnover of £29.7m. The last twelve months has seen a particularly significant leap with an increase in turnover of a record £8M. The change at the top took place not only on a financial high but it was also appropriately timed in that it was almost 20 years to the day since Monckton Chambers was established under its current name.

Paul Lasok’s areas of work include agriculture, competition, public & administrative law, public procurement, telecommunications, state aid, trade law (anti-dumping) and VAT & Customs Duties but he is best known for being a heavyweight in EU law.  Recognised for his “encyclopaedic knowledge of European case law”, one client commented that “He seemingly knows more about European law than anyone at the court itself.”

Graduating with an MA in Law from Cambridge, Paul completed an LLM in European Legal Studies at Exeter. Paul’s father, Dominik Lasok QC was one of the pioneers of the study and teaching of European Law in the academic world and the first Director of the University of Exeter’s Centre for European Legal Studies and so it could be said that European Law was in Paul’s blood.

Paul’s road to Monckton Chambers and his position as “a real doyen of the Bar” was far from straight.  Paul initially took up a position as a legal secretary to Advocate-General J-P Warner and Advocate-General Sir Gordon Slynn, Court of Justice of the European Communities. The experience proved invaluable as it gave Paul the opportunity to use his academic knowledge and aptitude to work on theories which could be included Advocate General’s opinions, most notable being his work developing the “Private Investor Principle” used in EU State Aid law. It was also in Luxembourg that Paul started his ongoing academic interest in the rules of procedure, a topic which resulted in a book, “Lasok’s European Court Practice and Procedure”, but also the basis of his subsequent PhD at Exeter.

After a two year stint in Brussels in private practice in EU law, London finally became Paul’s professional base in 1987. An invitation from Jeremy Lever QC of Gray’s Inn Chambers, which was later to become Monckton Chambers, saw Paul join those members of the set who had taken the farsighted decision to specialise in what is now EU law.  Paul’s European practice experience proved a perfect fit with other members as the set emerged as the leading EU and competition law practice for which Chambers is now best known.

Paul will be remembered for his wise leadership, particularly his approach to actively encouraging and supporting individuals, both barristers and support staff, to develop to their full potential.  His key mantras for recruitment were to attract the “intellectually curious” and that Chambers wanted “the best people for us” whilst at the same time showing that Monckton has the “best people for them”.

When it came to work, Paul believed that “when you lose a case, it rankles; when you win, well, that is what should happen.”  His case career ended on a high, acting for HMRC in a landmark win in the Supreme Court against the £100m UBS and DB ‘bankers’ bonus’ tax scheme appeal.

Joint Head of Chambers, Philip Moser spoke for all the members and staff when he said: “Monckton Chambers has been tremendously well served by Paul Lasok. He has established a collegiate ethos by which each member of chambers knows that individual success rests on the success of chambers as a whole. All members have benefited from his wisdom and his leadership.”

Paul Lasok officially retired from Monckton Chambers on Friday 29th April.