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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame Icon The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. In the United Kingdon, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for eight years. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.
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Notwithstanding the fear that the UK's exit from the European Union could reduce the attractiveness of London as a centre for dispute resolution, London and the UK courts remain popular choices for resolving complex commercial disputes.

The fallout from the financial crisis has continued to give rise to significant numbers of contractual disputes, while claims involving complex financial products such as derivatives, LIBOR, Forex manipulation and the credit default swaps (CDS) market have remained busy. As firms move to re-position themselves in this market, some are now offering in-house forensic accounting capabilities, with class-action litigation also becoming increasingly popular in the UK.

FIRMS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Ronald Fletcher Baker

At Ronald Fletcher Baker LLP high value litigation is what we’ve been doing for over fifty years, and we understand it’s never more important than when your business or reputation is at stake. Our commercial litigation team have extensive experience in commercial litigation, including arbitration, intellectual property disputes, commercial fraud, international contractual and corporate disputes and matters involving regulatory investigations. We have been involved in a number of leading cases in recent years including the leading authority on director’s liability, a ground-breaking case on the effectiveness of retention of title clauses and a primary authority relating to implied terms in an option agreement. There’s a reason that we are sought after by foreign governments, international corporate bodies, high net worth individuals and well known charities. Ronald Fletcher Baker’s expertise in dispute resolution speaks for itself – our promise is always to be professional, responsive and competitive.

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Employment, IP and regulatory disputes are also buoyant areas for disputes teams, while in the oil and gas sector, volatility has led to an increasing number of gas price reviews as well as a rise in forfeiture claims, with parties frequently assessing how to extract themselves from contracts.

International arbitration in London as a global dispute resolution mechanism goes from strength to strength, with the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) acting as one of the world’s leading international institutions for commercial dispute resolution; typically, over 80% of parties in pending LCIA cases are from outside England.

Both corporates and overseas nations are increasingly alert to London’s appeal; with some emerging market countries amending their domestic arbitration laws to take a more pro-arbitration position. Meanwhile some law firms report increasing numbers of clients choosing to use arbitration agreements during corporate deals. Also of interest, the London dispute resolution market has experienced a rise in the number of bilateral investment treaty arbitrations taking place.

With a number of new funders entering the market, clients are increasingly recognising the benefits of having a third-party investor fund their claims; funding can afford clients more choice as well as the chance to test the strength of claims before a neutral third party before going to court.

Some law firms are even entering into direct agreements with finance firms; in 2017 Shepherd and Wedderburn became the first top-100 UK firm to secure a portfolio financing arrangement with a third-party financier when it signed up to a dedicated dispute funding portfolio arrangement with Burford Capital.

Headline mergers among law firms with ranked dispute resolution practices to have gone live in 2018 include the launch of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP through the transatlantic merger of Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP and Bryan Cave; while in late 2017, Dentons  merged with Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens under the Dentons banner. A tie-up that saw the London office gain litigation partners Craig Neilson and Simon Colledge.

Other unions included Charles Russell Speechlys LLP joining up with sports law boutique Couchmans in 2018; Druces LLP's merger with London-based Ronaldsons, adding commercial litigator Neil Hayter to the group; and Laytons merging with Silverman Sherliker, the combined firm known as Laytons LLP.

High-profile market moves among leading litigators include Latham & Watkins’ hiring of Jon Holland and Andrea Monks from Hogan Lovells International LLP, who have advised retail and investment banks, asset managers, and other financial institutions on significant disputes and contentious regulatory matters. Their former firm meanwhile recruited Claire Lipworth from the Financial Conduct Authority, where she was chief criminal counsel.

Elsewhere, White & Case LLP recruited Hannah Field-Lowes , formerly co-head of disputes at Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) LLP; Norton Rose Fulbright’s former global head of investigations Chris Warren-Smith and fellow partner Melanie Ryan joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius UK LLP; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP former partner Paul Friedman exited for gunnercooke LLP; and Mishcon de Reya LLP hired Ben Giaretta, the former Asia arbitration practice head in Ashurst LLP's Singapore office.

Notable silk appointments in 2018 among the dispute resolution community included Latham & Watkins’ litigation and trial practice partners Philip Clifford QC and global co-chair of the international arbitration practice Sophie Lamb QC, along with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s Reza Mohtashami QC and Stephenson Harwood’s international arbitration group head  Louis Flannery QC.

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