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Mark Stafford

Work 020 3073 7600
Lee & Thompson LLP

Work Department

Dispute resolution.


Mark is a partner in the firm’s Dispute Resolution, Brand Protection and Digital & Technology Groups. He joined Lee & Thompson in 2006 and handles all types of contentious work across the media and entertainment industries, for both individual talent and corporate clients.

Mark advises on the full spectrum of music industry disputes, from copyright infringement matters to breach of contract claims, acting for artists, labels, publishers, management companies and agents, and has been involved in a number of high profile Court actions. He was instructed by the Wailers in their well-publicised litigation against Island Records and has recently acted for Lily Allen in High Court proceedings.

Mark represents a number of talent clients, from mainstream heavyweights such as One Direction, Tom Jones, and Queen, through to more niche artists, such as FKA Twigs, Stormzy and Joey Negro.

Mark also represents a number of film and television clients, advising producers, distributors, financiers and agents on all types of contentious issues, as well as advising talent clients, such as Stephen Fry, Bill Bailey and Matt Lucas, on brand protection matters. Mark has a particularly strong reputation for pre-broadcast copyright and libel clearance work, which he regularly undertakes for the producers of high-profile feature films and television series. Recent highlights include ‘American Honey’, ‘The Man From Mo’Wax’, ‘Marcella’ and ‘Saddam Goes To Hollywood’.

An increasing part of Mark’s practice is his privacy and defamation work, in which he has represented a number of celebrities and corporate clients in disputes with print publications and online media platforms.

A member of the firm’s dedicated Digital & Technology Group, Mark also provides advice on disputes arising from internet activity, including online infringement, digital piracy and social media issues. He also advises on brand protection matters, including digital asset protection, trade mark registration and domain name acquisition.

London: Risk advisory

Reputation management

Within: Reputation management

Lee & Thompson LLP’s team is β€˜approaching the top bracket in the industry for its reputation management work’ and has β€˜a strong understanding of the market and the issues clients face’. The firm’s media and entertainment client roster includes Harry Styles and Jude Law; practice head Mike Brookes is advising the latter on several privacy and defamation issues against Associated Newspapers and various US publishers pertaining stories surrounding him and his children. Other highlights include advising Lara Stone on harassment and reputation issues surrounding her divorce from David Walliams, and assisting various clients including Universal Pictures, Studio Canal and Working Title Films with pre-publication defamation and privacy issues. The team is also highly involved in the phone-hacking litigation against News Group Newspapers acting for an expansive list of high-profile individuals including Christopher Eccleston, Sophie Anderton and Wayne Bridge. Mark Stafford is recommended for pre-broadcast copyright and libel clearance work and senior associate Leo Dawkins is β€˜a rising star’.

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London: TMT (technology, media and telecoms)

Brand management

Within: Brand management

Lee & Thompson LLP has β€˜a thorough understanding of the issues surrounding brand protection, not only on the protection side, but also on the policing and enforcement side’. The team has β€˜broad yet in-depth knowledge and experience of all aspects of brand management, providing clear, accurate and client-specific advice’. Gordon Williams is recommended, as is Mark Stafford; both are β€˜very capable lawyers, providing no-nonsense and high-quality advice that is straightforward, accurate and easy to understand’. Dominic Bray, who focuses on advertising and marketing matters, is also recommended. In 2016, the team assisted marketing agency group Engine Group with major campaigns clearance issues, and advised on a number of endorsement and sponsorship mandates. Julian Ward joined from Hamlins LLP in May 2017.

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Media and entertainment (including media finance)

Within: Media and entertainment (including media finance)

Lee & Thompson LLP β€˜combines a high degree of industry-specific knowledge and legal expertise with a very practical, commercial and strategic approach to problem solving’. Its expertise spans music, film, television, marketing, advertising, digital media, theatre and book publishing. It advises the BPI on a range of digital privacy matters against internet service providers (ISPs). It also advises Cornerstone Films on film acquisitions as well as distribution deals, and acts for Coutts on film and TV financing arrangements. Sony ATV, Channelflip, The Fyzz Facility, Engine Group, Queen, Harry Styles and Little Mix are also clients. Key figures on the music front include group head Lawrence Engel, who is β€˜exceptional’, and Kieran Jay, who acts for music artists. Head of dispute resolution Andrew Forbes delivers β€˜robust straightforward legal advice’; contentious music specialists Dominic Free and Gordon Williams are also noted. Mike Brookes β€˜leaves his ego at the door and gets the result the client wants’; he heads the reputation protection group. Also recommended are music and entertainment litigator Martyn Bailey, who is β€˜first-rate’; Will Everitt, who is active on theatre and music matters and β€˜is incredibly thorough in his thinking around a subject’; Mark Ashelford, who heads the digital media practice; Dominic Bray, who has β€˜great advertising industry knowledge’; Richard Lever, who heads the TV group; and film head Christos Michaels, who is β€˜superb’. Managing partner Reno Antoniades is also noted for film work, while Sam Tatton-Brown handles media finance and the β€˜practical, straightforward and solution-oriented’ Nicki Parfitt specialises in film and TV sales and distribution work. Lee Stone, Malcolm Murray, Jeremy Gawade, Mark Stafford and Andrew Thompson are also singled out, as are senior associates Simon Goodbody and Tim Fowler.

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