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In the general crime space, firms report a slightly more stable period following the previous year’s cuts to Legal Aid, with most firms handling a healthy mix of private and publically funded cases; however, both the Criminal Procedure Rules and the police have suffered substantially as a result of the loss, which has caused significant difficulties with regards to the efficiency of the justice system. Violent crime, drug supply and sexual assault cases remain highly prevalent, as do gross negligence manslaughter claims brought against employers. Terrorism-related work has seen a significant increase, as have cybercrime matters and investigations into major historical disasters.

Claims arising out of the 2008 GFC remain predominant in the civil fraud space, as does litigation surrounding Russia and the CIS, South America and the Middle East. Civil litigation resulting from internal and external investigations is also on the increase, with courts keen to compensate parties for losses arising from corruption and fraudulent activity. Senior management liability claims are also gaining traction, with governments and regulatory agencies continuing their focus on bringing senior executives to account using increasingly sophisticated investigation methods; authorities including the SFO and Competition and Markets Authority are increasingly employing the use of wiretapping, along with IT and forensic approaches. There is some uncertainty regarding the future of the SFO in civil fraud and white collar crime cases with the Conservative government proposing its incorporation back into the NCA, a move not welcomed by the majority of the legal market. Corporate, commercial and regulatory matters continue to form the bulk of gaming and betting work, with the market showing a patent interest in smartphone apps, online gaming and digital currency. Market consolidation shows little sign of slowing down, so law firms’ M&A departments have seen a strong pipeline of merger, acquisition and joint venture work. Tax, finance and intellectual property issues also remain popular, with clients seeking advice on the complex tax regimes governing the gambling sector, as well as new media issues in relation to remote gambling operations.

Licensing sector firms have reported mixed and buoyant practices, and the area has seen an increased trend towards developer and landowner activity, with the hotel sector being of significant interest to domestic and international investors alike. The ranking lists firms who maintain strong relationships with licensing commissions and clients across the food and drink, leisure and hospitality sectors, and who regularly handle contested license applications for well-known venues.

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