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  1. Product liability: defendant
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Arnold & Porter (UK) LLP’s practice has a strong emphasis on the life sciences and pharmaceuticals sectors. In addition to regularly defending its corporate clients in litigation, the firm also provides non-contentious risk mitigation advice covering issues such as changes to product warnings and switches to the classification of medicines from prescription-only to pharmacy-sales. In a showcase of its pharmaceuticals expertise, the practice is defending Grünenthal in a group action claim arising from allegations that individuals suffered personal injury due to exposure to thalidomide during pregnancy. Ian Dodds-Smith heads the practice and is recommended alongside Adela Williams.

John Leadley (who is ‘the doyen of product liability litigation’) heads the practice at Baker McKenzie LLP, which is singled out for its product liability expertise relating to the biotechnology, electronics and consumables sectors. Leadley is leading the team defending Stryker Corporation in a product liability claim under the Consumer Protection Act 1987 concerning an allegedly defective hip replacement product. Other clients include Sony, Carlsberg and Logitech.

DAC Beachcroft LLP has a strong track record in the pharmaceuticals and life sciences sectors – its product liability practice is acting in the majority of cases in the UK – although the firm’s expertise extends beyond those sectors to handle matters for telecoms, food, consumer goods and technology companies. The practice is continuing to act for AstraZeneca Insurance Company in claims arising from the use of Seroquel, an anti-psychotic medication. In another key matter, Chris Wilkes and Wendy Hopkins acted for Zurich and Rolls-Royce Marine in claims arising from allegedly defective thrusters on one of the world’s largest container ships, which nearly sank in the Suez canal in 2013. Other key figures include practice head Simon Pearl and Alison McAdams.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP’s product liability practice acts for a blue-chip client base that includes Tesco, AB InBev, and Volkswagen, for which it regularly handles cross-border litigation and regulatory matters. It is also active in defending claims against manufacturing, chemical and biomedical companies, including Smith & Nephew. John Blain heads the practice, which includes Jonathan Isted, who is ‘the perfect all-rounder’.

Hogan Lovells International LLP’s ‘very thorough and responsive’ practice is jointly led by Rod Freeman (who is ‘a font of knowledge on product safety globally’), John Meltzer (who is ‘a very accomplished litigator’) and Ruth Grant. Clients include manufacturers of electrical goods and medical devices, and pharmaceuticals and tobacco companies. Senior associate Valerie Kenyon is also recommended.

Clyde & Co LLP’s client base includes leading insurers AIG, Zurich and Premium Medical Protection, as well as multinational corporates and manufacturers. The practice’s workload encompasses a variety of sectors, including the automotive, agriculture, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals and healthcare industries. Key work included defending Johnson & Johnson Medical in product liability claims arising from the use of trans- vaginal mesh in uro-gynaecological surgery. Practice head Neil Beresford has an extensive track record in automotive, healthcare and food and drink related matters, often with an international element. Also recommended are Claire Petts, who advises on healthcare-related matters, and Erika Rainger, who joined as legal director from RPC.

Tony Dempster, Howard Watson and Philip Pfeffer head the practice at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, which regularly focuses on major product liability cases and class actions, typically with international elements. In an illustration of its cross-border strength, the practice is acting for BAT Italia in a class action concerning allegations relating to addiction to cigarette smoking and nicotine manipulation. Other high-profile matters included its ongoing representation of Diageo in claims arising from its distribution of thalidomide. Damian Grave is also recommended.

Kennedys’ ‘reliable and highly sophisticated’ practice handles a range of matters, from engineering and automotive matters to complex healthcare and consumer products, for major corporates and their insurers. Key figures include practice head Shane Sayers, ‘superb all-rounder’ Trevor Davies, and Daniel Turner, who is representing Mitsui Insurance and Daiichi Sankyo in a class action concerning an alleged defect in a hypertension drug. Anne Ware has retired.

Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s team combines product safety specialists with expertise in civil, criminal and regulatory matters. Working closely with its policyholder insurance team, the firm handles criminal prosecutions, regulatory investigations, and claims by corporate clients against insurers in addition to acting in group actions. The practice is continuing to defend GlaxoSmithKline in claims relating to the anti-depressant, Seroxat. Practice head Louisa Caswell, who ‘impresses with her ability to implement clients’ objectives’, is leading the team on that matter. ‘Bright, hardworking and committed’ legal Director Mark Chesher is also recommended.

Jim Sherwood heads the practice at BLM, which acts for insurers as well as corporates on issues ranging from medical device claims to toxic tort issues and construction-related disputes. It also has a strong focus on coverage issues, where it acts for leading insurers such as Zurich, XL and Allianz. The practice recently defended Transform Medical Group, and their insurers in a group litigation case involving 1,200 claimants. David Kidman joined DWF.

Key figures at Covington & Burling LLP include senior associate Brian Kelly, who has a strong focus on the food and beverage sector, and Grant Castle, who has an extensive track record in issues relating to pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Clients include Holland & Barrett, Monster Energy and Johnson & Johnson Limited. Brussels-based Robin Blaney was promoted to partner.

Leeds-based Richard Matthews heads Eversheds LLP’s practice, which attracts praise for its ‘very strategic advice and responsive service’ and leverages its international office network to manage cross-border incidents and regulatory investigations. The practice has strength in the automotive, pharmaceutical and consumer products spaces, and counts Tyco, Allied Glass and Rolls Royce among its clients.

Mayer Brown International LLP’s practice is headed by Miles Robinson, who specialises in large-scale, cross-border group actions, and Ingrid Hobbs, who focuses on arbitrations and product recall. The practice acts for a range of food and beverage, biomedical and industrial sector clients.

Pinsent Masons LLP’s practice provides full UK coverage through its network of offices, and handles a range of matters, including product liability litigation and crisis management for clients in healthcare, manufacturing and pharmaceuticals sectors. Andrew Masterson leads the department, which includes the ‘thorough yet commercially focused’ Louise Nahon.

In an illustration of RPC’s track record acting for insurers and their insured, Dorothy Flower is leading the team representing Corin Limited and its insurers in group litigation concerning its metal-on-metal hip-implant technology. Flower is noted for her ‘energy and penetrating analysis when co-ordinating a defence’. Practice head Gavin Reese is also recommended. Alex Hamer has retired.

Simmons & Simmons acts for a leading insurer client base that includes Munich Reinsurance, AIG and Sompo Nikkonkoa Insurance. Jason Bright heads the practice and focuses on large-scale losses, and ‘intelligent, timely and accurate’ managing associate Sherry Goodman-Smith specialises in product recall and construction-related issues.

Ashurst’s practice has a strong focus on tobacco products, and acts as sole provider of product liability and safety advice to Imperial Tobacco. Mark Clarke heads the department.

DWF has a strong track record in the food and beverages sector, where it acts for clients including PepsiCo, WM Morrison Supermarkets and the Whitbread Group. Its product liability practice was further strengthened by the arrival of David Kidman from BLM; he specialises in claims concerning the medical devices, automotive and electrical sectors. Other key figures include Hilary Ross, who is noted for her ‘depth of knowledge and pragmatic approach’.

Osborne Clarke’s practice predominantly acts for technology clients including Facebook, VTech and EE, as well as for clients in the food and beverages industry. Catherine Wolfenden and Claire Temple co-head the practice. Jude King joined from the Advertising Standards Authority.

Penningtons Manches LLP’s practice is headed by John Doherty and has particular strength acting for tobacco manufacturers including British American Tobacco. Other clients include automotive and consumer goods companies.

Shook, Hardy & Bacon International LLP’s department is headed by Simon Castley and acts for major tobacco and automotive manufacturers. Sarah Croft focuses on life sciences and biotechnology litigation.

Shoosmiths LLP’s ‘very client-focused’ practice is best known for its work within the food and beverages industry, but also represents white goods manufacturers as well as automotive and retail clients. Phil Ryan in Reading and Richard Marshall, who is based in Manchester, jointly head the department.

Key figures at Weightmans LLP include practice head Fiona East, who is ‘a real class act and tenacious litigator’, and Ivor Long. The practice acts for a range of insurers and recently acted for a large automotive company.

Laurence Harris and David Kendall head the team at Cooley (UK) LLP, which has a reputation for handling insurance and reinsurance disputes for insurers including Munich Re, Swiss Re and XL Catlin, as well as handling pharmaceutical and medical device product liability claims arising from mass tort litigation.

Squire Patton Boggs has a longstanding track record of work in the food and beverage sector, and also acts for clients in the industrial and consumer goods sectors. Practice head Rob Elvin handles environmental and health and safety matters, and Birmingham-based Nicola Smith specialises in the hospitality and retail sectors.

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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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