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Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP is ‘second to none’ in pharmaceutical and life sciences work, counting Sanofi and Bayer as clients. Practice head Ian Dodds-Smith – who receives praise for his strategic thinking - is defending Grünenthal in 28 claims brought by a group of individuals, who allege that they were born with injuries after being exposed to thalidomide during pregnancy. Adela Williams is representing Pfizer in multi-party litigation in Scotland, which centres on cardiovascular disorders that were allegedly caused by Celebrex. Alison Brown’s recent caseload included inquests into deaths linked to diabetes care and matters relating to product recalls. Counsel Tom Fox is recommended for litigation and filing judicial reviews on behalf of pharmaceutical companies and, in addition to this, he is adept in a broad range of non-contentious work, including labelling, conformity marking and compliance matters. Associate Rhiannon Hughes is the other key figure.

At Baker McKenzie, John Leadley is ‘the doyen of defendant product liability law’ and leads the way in pharmaceutical and industrial manufacturing work. ‘He leads an impressive band of lawyers’, which includes Graham Stuart, senior associate Joanne Redmond and recently promoted partner Kate Corby, who is highly recommended for multijurisdictional product recalls. In an illustration of its standing as ‘a serious player in the market’, the practice is defending C.R. Bard against multiple claims relating to the allegedly defective transvaginal mesh and an inferior vena cava filter. Another significant mandate saw Leadley and Charles Thomson represent Foodles Production (UK) in proceedings pertaining to health and safety breaches that resulted in Harrison Ford being injured by a hydraulic metal door on the set of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Monica Vinader, Kingfisher plc and Sony feature on the extensive client list.

Up there with the leaders in the field’, DAC Beachcroft LLP is renowned for pharmaceutical and healthcare sector work, where it excels in disputes arising out of clinical trials. Simon Pearl became a consultant and ‘lends gravitas to the team’, which includes ‘genuine products, pharmaceutical and medical devices specialistsAlison McAdams and senior associate Olya Melnitchouk; together, they are representing Novartis and its subsidiary Alcon in claim relating to a phase two trial for a drug that is being tested for treating myelofibrosis, which allegedly caused neurological and cognitive impairment. The ‘very experienced and efficientWendy Hopkinsis always a calm and very safe pair of hands’, who recently took over from Pearl as practice head. Together with ‘skilled’ and ‘very bright’ legal director Stephen Turner, Hopkins is acting for Spire Healthcare in relation to metal-on-metal-hip litigation and High Court proceedings brought against defunct company Poly Implant Prothèse (PIP), which concerns implants that were manufactured with unapproved silicone gel; Pearl represents BMI Healthcare in both cases, with Melnitchouk also working on the hip litigation. The firm’s technology caseload increased, with McAdams advising EE on recalling all of its power bar mobile phone chargers in relation to allegations that they overheated and caused fires, resulting in personal injury and property damage. GlaxoSmithKline, Optegra and Allianz are additional clients of the practice, which includes Chris Wilkes.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s John Blain heads the practice and is defending Volkswagen against a high-profile group litigation order filed by thousands of motorists regarding the VW Emissions Scandal. Other recent mandates included advice on product portfolios, pharmaceutical products and Consumer Rights Act compliance. Standout companies such as Smith & Nephew and Japan Tobacco International instruct the team. Jonathan Isted co-heads the retail and consumer goods practice and is the other key figure with tobacco sector expert Paul Bowden and Andrew Austin.

Hailed as ‘one of the preeminent practices in London’, Hogan Lovells International LLPfeatures in many of the leading cases in the area’, where it represents an ‘impressive client base’, which includes Estée Lauder and Merck. Dual-qualified UK and Australian partner John Meltzercombines unrivalled experience with acute judgment’ and ‘is particularly good at understanding the client’s objectives’ in cross-border claims spanning Canada, Australia, the US and various European jurisdictions. He is defending Zimmer Biomet (formerly Biomet) against various claims brought across Europe and a group action concerning the early revision of all-metal prosthetic hip replacements, which was allegedly caused by adverse reactions to metal debris. Representing Vodafone in claims concerning radiofrequency radiation exposure is another highlight. Tobacco sector expert Ruth Grant jointly heads the practice with Meltzer and is retained by British American Tobacco in cross-border litigation filed by smokers, governments and health authorities, and she also advises on regulatory issues such as product testing. Senior associates Valerie Kenyon and Cécile Burgess are well regarded with ‘highly experienced’ consultant Caroline Moore, who has ‘a natural forensic awareness, which allows her to understand how points will play out in court’. Counsel Matthew Felwickis a rising star’ and ‘combines sharp intelligence with a strong commercial awareness’.

The ‘well-respected’ Anthony Dempster heads Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s practice and is ‘very strong technically’ in representing corporate clients and insurers in high-value claims, including product recalls. Coca-Cola and The Weir Group plc are key clients of the group. Howard Watson ‘is a star performer’ in group actions and has been handling major cases relating to drug distribution and fires caused by defective batteries. He is also defending the administrators of TXU Energy in asbestos claims brought against one of its group companies. Through the efforts of Philip Pfeffer, British American Tobacco Italia was successful in having Codacons’ attempt to appeal a class action dismissed by the Supreme Court, which concerned allegations that the defendant partook in a dangerous activity by manufacturing cigarettes in regards to nicotine manipulation and addiction issues. Senior associate David Bennett is a name to note.

Kennedys is a ‘prominent player’ and defending DePuy Synthes in several high-profile matters: recently promoted partner Samantha Silver (‘handles her clients with assurance and aplomb’) and Trevor Davies (‘has long experience and brings a reassuring calm to even the most trying of situations’) are representing the company in a group litigation order regarding its liability for metal-on-metal hip replacements that were allegedly defective. Davies, Andrew Hunn, Joti Penrose-Stevens and recently promoted partner Ben Aram are acting for DePuy in claims brought by foreign claimants under English law in relation to hip replacements. Department head Shane Sayers has been representing manufacturers and insurers in disputes concerning a range of products that were allegedly defective in the retail, technology and transport sectors, and Daniel Turner is handling various matters for Beko and its insurer, including an inquest into a death caused by smoke inhalation from a fridge freezer that caught on fire; the family of the deceased have filed a civil claim against the insured, which faces allegations that it declined recalling the defective product. Additional clients include leading insurers and Johnson & Johnson. Highly experienced solicitor Karishma Paroha is well regarded with David Philip, who is an expert in product design disputes.

Praised for ‘combining commercial awareness with technical expertise’, Addleshaw Goddard’s Louisa Caswellexpertly leads the highly experienced and well-regarded team’, which includes legal director and ‘class act’ Mark Chesher. They are defending GlaxoSmithKline against a number of claims brought under a group litigation order regarding the antidepressant drug Seroxat, where the claimants allege that discontinuing the drug amounts to personal injury; the case will be heard in 2018. The practice also advised on Trading Standards investigations and large-scale product recalls. McBride plc, Associated British Foods plc and Dixons Carphone are key clients of the ‘particularly strong’ group. Recently promoted partner Richard Wise is recommended for product liability and policyholder work.

Jim Sherwood leads BLM’s practice and is praised for ‘balancing what is right for the client with protecting the insurer’s interests’. Suppliers and manufacturers also instruct the firm in everything from cross-border disputes to recall claims. RSA and Globachem have retained the firm in a multimillion-euro claim relating to crops that were allegedly damaged, and the group is also representing Sunseeker and QBE in claims relating to a fire, which allegedly originated from a vessel that was manufactured by the insured. Mitchells & Butlers features on the impressive client roster with Generali, Direct Line and other leading insurers. Carys Oatham arrived from DWF, where she garnered expertise in mandates involving French and Italian courts. Michael Harvey is another key contact.

Clyde & Co LLP’s industry strengths include the automotive, pharmaceutical, healthcare, manufacturing and retail sectors. Legal director Jason McNerlin focuses on product recall and contaminated products insurance, and Claire Petts has experience in medical devices and drug trial cases. Jamie Hui was promoted to senior associate and is a name to note. Practice head Neil Beresford has particular expertise in the agriculture and food industries and is acting for an insurer in relation to contaminated fish that was sold by its insured to a restaurant. The practice is also representing AIG in a case involving allegations of defective product design and negligence in connection to US class actions relating to the water contaminated by perfluorinated compounds. In addition to this, the firm defended Caffè Nero in proceedings brought by Wandsworth Council, which alleged that a customer was injured after digesting a cleaning brush wire that had found its way into food sold by the client. Iveco, Chubb and Travelers are also clients.

The ‘very strong’ practice at DWF merged with specialist insurance firm Fox Hartley, which saw London and Bristol-based Trevor Fox and Peter Barnes join the team. Dedicated groups provide targeted advice to clients and include John Groome’s global casualty and property team, executive partner Hilary Ross’ retail, food and hospitality practice, and Dominic Watkins’ food group. Sara-Jane Eaton heads the European team and ‘has an excellent track record’ in representing foreign insurers and their insured in product recalls and claims brought under EU legislation and the Consumer Protection Act. Food, drink and automotive sector matters are core strengths of the firm, with David Kidman handling a claim arising out of a fatal car accident and Ross advising a fast-food company on cross-border compliance with marketing claims for poultry and beef products. Other clients include PepsiCo, Aviva and Marks & Spencer.

In Leeds, Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP’s Richard Matthewsis experienced, pragmatic and helps construct a solid defence’ in all manner of work, ranging from group litigation proceedings to supply chain disputes and assisting with product recalls. Recent mandates for the practice included high-profile product recalls, warranty disputes and personal injury claims relating to allegedly defective consumer products. Senior associate Peter Shervington is an expert in the transport and automotive sectors. The latter is a core focus of the group, which also acts for clients in the retail, security and insurance industries.

Mayer Brown International LLP’s ‘absolutely outstanding’ practice is led by the ‘solution-oriented’ Miles Robinson and Ingrid Hobbs, who acts for insured entities facing allegations of supplying defective products. Insurers and manufacturers from various industries instructed the practice in the full range of work, including multi-party disputes relating to products that were allegedly defective in the transport sector, proceedings concerning personal injury claims arising from chemical contamination and business interruption loss claims relating to alleged faulty products. Sunseeker is a key client of the team with food, automotive and construction sector companies.

Pinsent Masons LLP is representing Hamad M. Aldrees & Partners in a multimillion-pound dispute filed against Rotex Europe, which allegedly supplied deficient mineral separating units and has filed a counterclaim against the client for unpaid fees. Leeds-based practice head Andrew Masterson acted for Laleham Health & Beauty in a dispute with a supplier of specialist labels to recover losses for products that were defective, inaccurate and delivered late. Asda and Tecoglas are additional clients. At legal director level, the recently promoted Louise Nahon – who is a qualified chartered mechanical engineer – is recommended in Leeds with the ‘outstanding’ Sarah Taylor, who ‘can be depended on to get the best possible result’, leaving ‘no stone is left unturned’ when advising on product safety matters for retailers and food and drink manufacturers. Manoj Vaghela is the main contact in London.

The ‘very experiencedDorothy Flower leads the medical and life sciences team at RPC and is adept in defending suppliers and manufacturers of medical devices and pharmaceutical products in major disputes, which includes defending Corin in the metal-on-metal hip group litigation that will go to trial in October 2017. In another illustration of strength, Flower and health and safety practice head Nick McMahon are representing Cloverleaf Products, a former distributor of PIP breast implants, in relation to a number of Part 20 claims brought by clinics which face action for implanting PIP products. Senior associate Peter Rudd-Clarke is a key figure with practice head Gavin Reese, who is defending a Chinese manufacturer in a property damage claim relating to a fire that was allegedly caused by a bottle cooler supplied by the client. Well-known insurers such as QBE and XL Catlin feature on the client roster with Stanmore Implants Worldwide and Endologix.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon International LLP provides ‘expert opinions that are reliable’ and ‘ensures that it is one step ahead of the other side in litigation’, which predominately concerns consumer products. As well as advising on regulatory issues and product recalls, the firm also manages risk and brand reputations. Managing partner Gregory Fowler relocated to London in 2016 as practice head and has ‘an exceptional depth of knowledge’ in acting for global manufacturers across the tobacco, beverage and firearms industries. Sarah Croft focuses on the pharmaceutical, medical device and automotive sectors and is highly experienced with Alison Newstead, whose expertise includes electronics and industrial components. Associate Andrew Davidson is recommended, as is the ‘hugely experienced’ and ‘very strategic thinker’ Simon Castley, who previously led the practice. Samuel Sebree joined the London team following the closure of the Geneva office with Trevor Bridges, who is well regarded for assisting with new product launches and representing clients in investigations conducted by government entities, among other matters. The ‘outstanding’ firm’s recent caseload included personal injury claims relating to allegedly defective medical devices, international risk mitigation and class actions. Insurance, automotive, technology and retail sector companies feature on the extensive client list.

A high number of Simmons & Simmons’s instructions derive from insurers and reinsurers that underwrite product liability policy covers. Jason Brightexplains complex matters brilliantly’ and is representing Allianz and its insured in a case that was reopened due to new found evidence, which relates to allegations that a defective printing press destroyed a commercial building, resulting in large business interruption losses. Ironshore, Lockton Companies and AIG are key clients of the ‘extremely well-organised and helpful’ group. Managing associate Sherry Goodman-Smith is recommended for consumer products matters and handles medical devices work with Bright, who has additional strength in pharmaceuticals and cyber liability risk.

Rod Freeman joined Cooley (UK) LLP as practice head from Hogan Lovells International LLP and has a track record in high-stakes litigation and international matters spanning all manner of work, including defective medical devices and pharmaceutical products and large product recalls. Global companies also instruct him in non-contentious matters relating to reputational management, product safety and regulatory compliance work. Associate Sarah-Jane Dobson joined from the same firm and is noted for international mandates. Laurence Harris is the other key figure with David Kendall, who is representing XL Insurance Bermuda in various arbitration actions against policyholders in relation to coverage under Bermuda Form liability policies regarding medical devices, pharmaceuticals, construction defects and numerous other matters. The firm, which is praised for its ‘excellent’ service, also acts for Swiss Re, Munich Re and Textron.

Covington & Burling LLP is also ranked.

John Doherty heads Penningtons Manches LLP’s practice and acts for large multinationals in unsafe consumer products matters and investigations conducted by Trading Standards, among other work. He represented Collier Environmental Services in a claim concerning a defective Volvo vehicle and commercial litigator Richard Marshall acted for Cannon Automotive and C.A. Holdings plc in proceedings against its former US distributor in relation to BMW car mats and Hyundai vehicles that allegedly defective and sold across the US. Guildford-based senior associate Elise Bevan has been active in medical devices work.

Shoosmiths LLP’s practice stretches across the UK and is well regarded for product safety work in the manufacturing, retail and automotive sectors. Volkswagen, IKEA and Tesco are key clients with Hoover, which retains the group as its sole product liability advisor. Manchester-based senior associate Richard Marshall – who provides ‘exemplary client care and attention to detail’ – defended Hoover against a number of claims in relation to fires in residential and commercial properties. Other recent mandates for the practice included high-profile product recalls and personal injury claims pertaining to defective product allegations. In Reading, Philip Ryan is ‘highly experienced and totally unflappable’ and is recommended with commercial insurance practice head Paul Eccles. Ron Reid retired from practice and Milton Keynes-based Charles Arrand joined from DLA Piper UK LLP with Birmingham’s Roy Tozer, who took over as practice head from Ryan and Marshall.

Weightmans LLP fields ‘industrious and knowledgeable practitioners’ across the UK, which include Stephen Robb and Blaise Smith in Leicester and Leeds, respectively. Insurers, automotive companies and retailers often retain the firm, which is acting for an insurer in a dispute relating to solar panels that were allegedly defective. Its expertise extends to food contamination claims, malfunctioning industrial components, product recalls, brand protection and numerous other matters. In Dartford, practice head Fiona Eastis very knowledgeable and thorough in her analysis’ and is the name to note for automotive work regarding defective components from supply chains.

Ashurst’s Edward Sparrow became practice head following Mark Clarke’s move to White & Case LLP. In other personnel changes, Sophie Law was promoted to senior associate and has expertise in a range of matters, including health claims pertaining to smoking and product safety advice. The group shines in tobacco sector work and represents Imperial Brands in international litigation relating to conventional tobacco products, and e-cigarettes and other non-conventional tobacco products. Highlights included defending the company’s Moroccan subsidiary in a claim brought by the heirs of a deceased individual, who passed away from lung cancer that was allegedly caused by smoking.

Bond Dickinson LLP’s impressive client list includes Tempur Sealy International, e.l.f. Cosmetics and InterSystems Corporation. The firm is assisting Kingfisher plc with centralising its product, safety and assurance procedures, and it also handled several matters for its subsidiary B&Q, which included advising on legislation concerning water fittings and hazardous chemicals, product withdrawals and bringing claims against suppliers. Consultant Nicky Strong heads the practice from Southampton and is recommended with Bristol-based associate Ashley Borthwick, who is well regarded for product safety, compliance and recall work.

Keystone Law bolstered its team by hiring ‘strong negotiator’ and ‘real specialistAntony Colman from Thomas Eggar LLP, who acts for manufacturers and insurers in international trade disputes. Health and safety expert David Beckenham arrived from an in-house position at Harsco Corporation and is adept in product recalls and defending against enforcement actions under food and safety laws, among other work. Jason Kallis is defending Bosch against a claim served in Germany, which relates to a fire caused by a product bearing the client’s branding. The ‘dynamic and up-and-coming firm’ also counts HDI Global, Electrium and ThyssenKrupp Elevator UK as clients.

Associate director Claire Temple leads Osborne Clarke LLP’s product regulation service line and advises clients on various matters in relation to bringing their products to market, including assisting with by assisting with labelling, regulatory issues and packaging; handling product recalls and representing clients in regulatory investigations and disputes are among other strengths. Products wise, Temple’s expertise includes drones, driverless cars and food and drink. The firm has experience in acting for automotive, media and technology companies and other diversified clients.

Mamas & Papas was a recent addition to Squire Patton Boggs’ client roster and instructed Manchester-based managing partner Rob Elvin in product recall and regulatory matters in relation to a loose catch in a batch of its Armadillo Flip Pushchairs, which covered multiple jurisdictions, including Australia, Canada and the Middle East. Molson Coors, Acorn Mobility Services and Morgan Advanced Materials are additional clients. Work relating to compliance, investigations, product quality and brand protection are further strengths of the firm, which has dedicated practices for industrial products, brands and consumer products, and food and beverage litigation. Director Nicola Smith is ‘personable and great in a crisis’ and stands out in Birmingham with Simon Garbett, who also works out of the London office.

Doug Bryden heads the operational risk group at Travers Smith LLP and is the primary contact for product and trade law, including work relating to chemical and hazardous substances, liability matters, market access, and product safety and recalls. Senior associate and regulatory expert Carl Boeuf is also recommended with Heather Gagen, who was made up to partner. Advising Nike on EU regulatory matters was a highlight for the team, which advised on chemicals and safety regulation, among other work. Specialized Bicycle Components is another key client.

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Legal Developments in London for Product liability: defendant

  • 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

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