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London remains a strong international hub for dispute resolution, and has seen an overall increase in the number of large cases reaching court. The London courts are particularly popular with foreign parties, especially from Russia and the CIS region. The Middle East and Africa are also increasingly generating work for London’s dispute resolution lawyers.

With the economic crisis causing defaults, particularly on bonds and derivatives, the past year has seen a significant increase in high-profile banking cases. Various scandals have also been a source of work for banking litigators, and further regulatory enforcement is anticipated as a consequence of Libor manipulation involving several banks.

In the world of international arbitration, it has been the energy sector which has produced the largest cases. Public international law practitioners remain busy with investment treaty disputes, and, because of the continuing global economic uncertainty, an increase in sovereign debt/immunity claims is also expected.

Litigation practices are braced for the impact of the Jackson reforms, which were implemented in April 2013 in England and Wales and constitute the single largest change to civil procedure since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules in 1999. The changes include the introduction of contingency fees, and the abolition of success fees in conditional fee agreements and after-the-event (ATE) premiums. Success fees and ATE premiums relating to insolvency presently remain recoverable; insolvency practitioners have been graced with an exemption period until April 2015.

The changes are expected to trigger a reduction in litigation, but an increase in third party supported commercial disputes is also expected, with clients requiring their legal advisers to offer funding schemes beyond the traditional model of hourly rates. Some law firms are ahead of the game in terms of establishing relationships with major funders; and because the court can now require parties to produce costs budgets, some practices have introduced cost management tools in response to the new requirements.

The dispute resolution legal market remains mobile. Allen & Overy LLP saw its global international arbitration chair Stephen Jagusch join Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP together with Anthony Sinclair. Norton Rose LLP saw the departure of international arbitration head Joe Tirado to Winston & Strawn London, with Steve Abraham leaving for Baker & McKenzie LLP, Charles Evans for Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, and Dorian Drew for Clifford Chance; the firm’s high-profile merger in June 2013 meanwhile brought Fulbright partners Deborah Ruff, Chris Warren-Smith, Lista Cannon and Melanie Ryan to the dispute resolution group.

In addition to opening a New York office in September 2012, Herbert Smith LLP completed its own merger, with Australian law firm Freehills, in October 2012, becoming Herbert Smith Freehills LLP. It also saw a number of high-profile departures, including commercial litigator Ted Greeno, who joined Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and contentious financial services specialist Martyn Hopper, who is now with Linklaters LLP.

In other noteworthy moves, Linklaters LLP arbitration partner Christopher Style QC is now with One Essex Court; Philippa Charles, previously of Mayer Brown International LLP, has joined Stewarts Law LLP as its head of international arbitration; and Ania Farren joined K&L Gates LLP from Baker Botts (UK) LLP. Justin Michaelson left SJ Berwin LLP for Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson (London) LLP, while Dentons’ merger brought Salans’ George Burn to the firm.

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Legal Developments in London for Overview

  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

    - Macfarlanes

Legal Developments in the UK

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  • Home Office announces extension of support service for SMEs

    An online support service for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) which need to recruit skilled overseas workers has been extended until 28 February 2014. The pilot was launched by UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) in partnership with the Greater London Authority (GLA) and provides a step by step guide to sponsoring an overseas worker. This service is available via the GLA website.
  • Penningtons Manches' immigration team considers new changes to the Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance

    The Home Office has recently published new Tier 4 Sponsor Guidance, version 12/13. This guidance is to be used by all prospective and existing Tier 4 sponsors from 11 December 2013.
  • Finding the 
right words

    In the recent case of Newbury v Sun Microsystems [2013], the defendant argued that an offer to settle proceedings was ‘in principle' only and that a binding contract could not be formed until further terms had been agreed and a formal contract had been signed. It supported this argument by referring to a statement, in the offer letter, that the settlement was to be ‘recorded in a suitably worded agreement'. 

  • Behind the corporate veil: is that all there is?

    That companies have an existence entirely separate to that of their shareholders and directors is a foundational principle of English law and commerce.

  • Playing fair with penalty clauses

    It is often difficult to predict what will be recoverable as damages for breach of contract. To provide some certainty, parties will often seek to agree the sum that will be payable in the event of specified breaches. 

  • Restoring environmental damage: putting a price on ecosystem services

    On 7 August 2009 a 40-inch pipeline ruptured, spilling 5,400 cubic metres of crude oil into the soil and groundwater of La Crau nature reserve in southern France, a habitat protected under French and European law. The operator had to excavate and replace 60,000 tons of soil, install 70 wells to pump and treat groundwater and 25 pumps to skim oil from surface water, at a cost in the region of €50m. However, this was just the primary remediation (that is, restoring the site to the state it would have been if the damage had not occurred). The operator was also required to compensate for the damage to the habitats and the loss of the ecosystem services that would otherwise have been provided by La Crau nature reserve. Measures included purchasing land outside of the nature reserve and contributing to its management for a period of 30 years (over €1m), monitoring the water table for 20 years (over €500,000), monitoring fauna over three years (€150,000) and rehabilitation in accordance with best available ecological techniques (nearly €2m). Overall, the compensatory restoration (to compensate for the amount of time that the ecosystem was impacted) and complimentary restoration (to compensate for elements of the ecosystem that had been permanently lost) came to more than €6.5m. 

  • The role of arbitrators in EU antitrust law

    In May 2014, it will be ten years since Regulation No 1/2003 entered into force. When the legislator of the European Union adopted this Regulation on 16 December 2002, its main objective was to decentralise the enforcement of the two main provisions of EU antitrust law, Articles 81 and 82 of the Treaty establishing the European Community (now Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)). Where do the arbitrators fit in this picture?

  • New Immigration Bill, October 2013: cause for concern or appeasing public sentiment?

    The year 2013 has seen a string of reforms to the immigration system by the current coalition government. On 10 October, the government published a Bill aimed at continuing its drive to reduce net migration figures. 

  • New Schengen EU Regulations: impact on short-stay visa visitors

    The publication on 26 June 2013 of the European Union Regulation EU 610/2013 modified the incumbent Regulation EU 562/2006 in relation to third country nationals (ie non-EU citizens) and those travelling on a short-stay visitor visa, as well as those who do not require a visa to enter the Schengen area, Romania, Croatia and Bulgaria. Exceptions include EU and EEA nationals travelling to other EU/EEA states within the Schengen area together with foreign nationals holding either long-stay or residence permits for their destination Schengen countries.

  • New revised guidelines for administrators in pre-pack sales

    Pre-pack sales by administrators are now used frequently enough for most people in business to be aware of them and many have come across them in their business lives. A small amount of controversy still attaches to pre-packs, but it is probably right to say that they are now an accepted part of the UK business scene as a useful means of rescuing a business in difficulty and preserving some or all of the jobs connected with the business.
    - Druces

Press Releases in the UK

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to