Litigation and Disputes
Our approach is to establish early what you want to achieve and then devise the most cost-effective strategy taking account of wider commercial considerations. We can offer flexible charging structures, a range of fee earner engagement and innovative funding solutions.
We act for both claimants and defendants and our team will consider all the different ways in which disputes can be resolved including mediation, arbitration or straight forward negotiation. If that fails, and whether you are a claimant pushing for early judgment or a defendant facing proceedings, we will exploit the court process to maximise your position.
We are familiar with all courts in this country up to and including the Supreme Court and can also advise on litigating and enforcement in the European jurisdiction. Put simply, we will deploy whatever strategy, or combination of strategies, that best suits your objectives.
Our key practice areas are banking and finance, defending guarantee proceedings, fraud and asset recovery, insolvency litigation, shareholder partnership disputes, trust and property and contractual disputes.
Banking and Finance
We have a long track record acting for banks and other lenders. Our financial institution clients include a major clearing bank, new-entry banks, insurance companies, brokerages, and other secondary lenders. Our banking practice has a proven track record of recovery from high-risk individuals (whether in relation to guarantee proceedings or otherwise) and corporate entities and our focus is on early judgment followed by the full range of enforcement options including insolvency where necessary. At the higher end, we can deploy the full complement of recovery tools including asset-tracing and the securing of freezing and search orders.
Defending guarantee proceedings
Unlike bigger firms we are not conflict-bound and have almost no ties to large corporates. As such, we are able and willing to act against financial institutions and have a proven track record in successfully defending guarantors against claims brought by banks and other creditors.
One of the fall-outs from the “banking crisis” is that banks now increasingly require additional security for their lending. Typically, this will include a personal guarantee from the owner of the business to which it is lending, or from a third party. Banks are quick to call in their guarantees when times get rough which can put a guarantor’s home at risk causing enormous stress.
There are many defences available to a guarantor which we will explore with you. These might include:
- breach of the terms of the principal lending contract by the lender (on which the guarantor can rely)
- a failure by the bank or lender in making demand to comply with the terms of the guarantee
- misrepresentation, for example, a guarantor cannot be induced into entering the guarantee by a misleading statement from the lender
- undue influence or duress, for example, when a third party (typically a husband or wife) is made a guarantor of the business’ liabilities against their will or better judgement
- misconduct on the part of the bank or lender.
Fraud and asset recovery
Dealing with fraud and asset recovery is integral to our practice. Fraud appears in all shapes and guises and its activities can give rise to various claims including breach of duty, breach of trust, conspiracy, dishonest assistance and fraudulent trading.
Typically, fraud will involve some form of dishonest or even criminal conduct. Although this requires a higher burden of proof, and can be accompanied by a rise in temperature between the parties, a fraud action can have advantageous outcomes such as greater scope for recovery or a way out of tricky limitation issues or contractual exclusion clauses. The key to a successful fraud action is careful preparation and a clear strategy from the outset.
We have acted in numerous cases with a fraud element and will exploit the full range of recovery tools to enhance a detailed investigation of the facts and the protection of target assets. These tools are many and varied and may include a tailored disclosure application (whether before and after proceedings are issued) or, if it is thought there is a risk of assets disappearing, the securing of search and seize orders or a worldwide freezing order.
Our comprehensive insolvency expertise ideally complements our dispute resolution practice and vice versa.
In contentious matters we act both for and against office holders whether in bankruptcy, liquidations or administrations. We are familiar with all claw-back claims, including wrongful or fraudulent trading, preferences, transactions at undervalue, misfeasance, post-petition dispositions in bankruptcy and transactions defrauding creditors.
Our team regularly acts for directors and is well versed in claims involving directors duties, Phoenixism or trading with a prohibited name. We frequently act in claims of a regulatory nature, for example, defending directors in claims brought by the Government under the Company Directors Disqualification Act, or defending insolvency practitioners in claims brought by their regulatory bodies.
Shareholder & Partnership Disputes
Management disputes can be crippling to a successful business. We have specialists in both our litigation and corporate departments to advise business owners of their rights and responsibilities in event of disagreement.
Temperatures invariably run high and, as with any divorce, the dispute can be costly and time-consuming if handled badly. Our focus is to identify early the nub of the dispute and then seek the most cost-effective solution in collaboration with your accountants, tax consultants or funders.
If your dispute can be resolved without recourse to court, our company & commercial team can advise on any structural reorganisation and prepare any transactional documents.
If out-of-court settlement strategies flounder and recourse to court is unavoidable, we will guide you through the various options. There are various procedures available tailored to different circumstances and outcomes.
In disputes involving members of a company these include claims under the Companies Act which will vary depending upon whether you want relief for the company or for yourself as a shareholder of the company.
Trust & Property
We advise property owners, trustees, settlors and beneficiaries on a range of complex trust and property disputes involving both a domestic and international element. Breaches of trust and fiduciary duties crop up frequently in property litigation as do all kinds of trust claims, including knowing receipt and dishonest assistance.
Many of our cases involve facts going back many years so we have comprehensive document-management systems and can handle complex disclosure exercises.
We also act in probate claims and claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Our property litigation lawyers act in all manner of disputes involving commercial property and commercial leases where we act for landlords and tenants, developers, lenders, funders and local authorities. We also act for many mortgage borrowers who have found themselves on the wrong side of a claim for possession by their lender.
Our property litigators have particular expertise in the following:
- Commercial and residential landlord and tenant disputes
- Dilapidation and disrepair claims
- Possession actions including properties unlawfully occupied by squatters
- Recovery of rent arrears and service charges
- Landlord or tenant insolvency
- Termination of lease claims
Disputes over contracts are widespread and frequently form a part of wider litigation. We act in contractual disputes of all kinds including those involving credit and security agreements, guarantees, insurance, agency, gaming and wagering, construction and the sale of goods and services.
We are well-versed in the more arcane aspects of contract law and have a comprehensive understanding of relevant legislation including the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The information contained within this website is for information only and should not be construed as an accurate summary of the law or legal advice on any matter.
We are delighted with our write up in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500 this year: https://t.co/KVbJmzcAdd.21st Oct 2019 16:33:29
Congratulations to associate Sian Leonard who won the Rising Star award at the Insolvency Practitioners Association awards last week30th Sep 2019 10:15:18