Pogust Goodhead > London, England > Firm Profile

Pogust Goodhead
70 Mark Lane
London
EC3R 7NQ
England

Dispute resolution > Group litigation: Claimant Tier 1

Pogust Goodhead’s group litigation practice acts on high-profile, high-value collective actions, often precedent-setting in nature. The team is active on many leading cases in this arena, representing tens of thousands of claimants in the highly publicised Dieselgate cases, as well as the British Airways data breach class action. Product liability is another strength of the team that is jointly led by Tom Goodhead and Christopher Neill. Céline Barnwell’s practice focuses on complex cross-border disputes, particularly in the environmental law space, playing a crucial role on the well-known Fundao dam dispute that the practice is widely commended for. The strength of the team was further bolstered by the arrival of Guy Robson from Keller Postman UK in November 2022.

Practice head(s):

Tom Goodhead; Christopher Neill

Other key lawyers:

Work highlights

  • Representing over 700,000 claimants in a landmark litigation against two entities of the BHP group dually listed in England and Australia, regarding the 2015 ‘Fundao Dam collapse’ in South-Eastern Brazil.
  • Issued proceedings against petrochemical giant Braskem over significant environmental destruction caused by its controversial mining activities in the city of Maceio, Brazil.
  • Acting on behalf of over a thousand affected Brazilian claimants in the widely devastating Brumadinho environmental litigation.

Real estate > Environment Tier 3

Pogust Goodhead has an exclusive focus on litigation on behalf of claimants, with a view to bringing to light breaches of environmental law committed by global corporations and international subsidiaries, and it litigates against high-profile clients of this nature. It is noted as being ‘ambitious; it embraces the opportunity to take on precedent-setting litigation’. The practice has a multitude of specialists at its helm, being Tom Goodhead who is described as harnessing unrivalled expertise in environmental group actions’; Céline Barnwell; Jeremy Evans; Christopher Neill; Tom Ainsworth; the ‘very knowledgeable’ Ana Carolina Salomão; Tony Winterburn; and November 2022 arrival from Keller Postman UK Guy Robson. Other team changes include the departures of founding partners Pedro Martins and of Tomás Mousinho to respective in-house roles, both in August 2022.

Practice head(s):

Tom Goodhead; Céline Barnwell; Jeremy Evans; Christopher Neill; Tom Ainsworth; Ana Carolina Salomão; Guy Robson; Tony Winterburn

Other key lawyers:

Felipe Hotta; Bruna Ficklscherer

Testimonials

‘Pogust Goodhead is unique in its pursuit of seeking justice for underprivileged people.’

‘Tom Goodhead is a brilliant strategist; Guy Robson brings a lot of fresh and deep litigation experience to Pogust Goodhead; Bruna Ficklscherer is passionate and hard-working.’

‘Pogust Goodhead has a strong focus on international environmental disputes. It is very impressive how the firm provides thorough and systematic knowledge of the Brazilian legal system. The firm has a great experience in mass litigation claims and follows a very structured approach to handling proceedings with a large number of claimants.’

‘Tom Goodhead’s strategic input is very valuable – his team provides a very pragmatic advice and is focused on values. Christopher Neill has a very pragmatic approach to complex legal questions.’

‘Anna Carolina Salomão is very knowledgeable, responsive and pragmatic and can be relied upon to find practical solutions to very complex legal challenges.’

‘PGMBM outperforms its rivals. For a relatively new firm, it has deservedly made a name for itself. The team pursue their client’s interests fearlessly and obtain excellent results. The team is ambitious; it embraces the opportunity to take on precedent-setting litigation.’

‘Tom Goodhead has excellent judgment and unrivalled expertise in environmental group actions.’

Work highlights

  • Representing over 700,000 claimants in regard to the 2015 ‘Fundão Dam collapse’ in South-eastern Brazil, involving 50m cubic metres of iron ore tailings being washed into the Doce River.
  • Issued proceedings against Dutch petrochemical giant Braskem over significant environmental destruction (including an earthquake) caused by its controversial mining activities in the city of Maceio, Brazil.
  • Representing over 15,000 claimants in the Volkswagen NOx Emissions Group Litigation as part of the Steering Committee appointed by the Court to conduct the Litigation pursuant to a Group Litigation Order.

Insurance > Product liability: claimant

Pogust Goodhead, managed by Tom Goodhead, has expertise in UK consumer and medical product liability claims with a specialism in large scale group litigation.

Public sector > Civil liberties and human rights

Pogust Goodhead is developing an exceptional reputation for its expertise handling high-value international human rights and environmental group litigations.

Tom Goodhead, CEO and Global Managing Partner, Pogust Goodhead

CEO and Global Managing Partner, Tom Goodhead, discusses litigating the largest class action of its kind in the world.

 

1) What do you see as the main points that differentiate Pogust Goodhead from your competitors?

The firm began in 2018 with just a handful of staff members and now boasts over 700 employees across 10 offices globally. Our lawyers are driven by their passion to provide access to justice for the 3 million clients they serve. The firm is currently litigating the world’s largest opt-in class action in the world against Anglo-Australian mining giant BHP, over the collapse of the Fundão dam in 2015.

Pogust Goodhead has a large international presence, with offices in the UK, US, the Netherlands and Brazil. However, despite its size, the firm remains relatively unique within the legal market. We have been described as the first ‘legal unicorn’ because we’ve followed a trajectory much more like a fintech start up than a law firm. We don’t get paid by the hour and our fees come in later when the work has been done, which sets us apart. We’re part of what is still a relatively nascent sector of the legal industry in the UK and are now one of the leading players.

In September 2023, the firm announced a landmark £450 million investment partnership with emerging markets investment manager Gramercy, which has been hailed as the largest litigation funding deal in legal history. The partnership will address the growing demand from consumers and other victims of injustice to access redress against corporations through litigation. This uniquely positions Pogust Goodhead at the forefront of the group litigation market and gives us the financial power to take on some of the largest, most powerful companies in the world on behalf of millions of people.

 

2) Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We’re established leaders in the market for litigation on large-scale environmental disasters, and in light of our recent funding deal, we expect this area of our work to grow. This is on top of our work in the Dieselgate emissions cases and our other consumer, where our firm represents hundreds of thousands of clients affected by the unlawful or unethical practices of large companies or manufactures.

The recent funding deal means we can go toe-to-toe with some of the largest companies in the world, many of which have access to an infinite number of resources to fight our claims. The deal means we can leave no stone unturned and have an even greater capacity to take the fight to many more corporations that have caused untold damage to the environment and people’s lives.

Our cases are always about corporate misconduct, anti-competitive behaviour, corporate harm, and environmental damage. This will remain our focus. For us, it’s not just about the financial end to a case but rather encouraging compliance across industries – putting companies on notice that they can no longer get away with causing widespread damage to the environment and people’s lives. We want to ensure that large corporations are held to account and compensate victims that have suffered as a result of corporate wrongdoing.

 

3) What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

In response to our rapidly growing client base, Pogust Goodhead has pioneered an innovative approach to case management solutions. To provide the best quality of client care to the vulnerable communities that we represent, we have created technologies possessed by no other law firm in the world.

We process clients in a low touch model that automates as many of the steps as possible, from signing up to receiving compensation. Processing a voluminous client base was an initial hurdle which we overcame through the use of automated email, SMS and WhatsApp journeys. When clients begin the sign-up process, they enter a ‘lifecycle journey’ which targets them with automated, yet personalised claim information requests.

As there is currently no group litigation software on the market (due to it being a relatively new concept in the UK) we built a platform to suit our requirements. Looking to other industries for best practices and in-house software solutions, we built out our own infrastructure, using world-class CRM and automated client lifecycle systems.

Developing this platform in-house (eventually known as the Claim Validation Platform) has hugely influenced our strategy on our emissions cases, including the My Diesel Claim campaign, which has acquired more than 1.8 million signups to date. We built the platform in such a way, that it is not specifically customised to a case, but instead is built to be reusable and repeatable, so it can be replicated over a range of future litigations. This demonstrates our firm’s unrivalled capacity to understand, in-depth, each stage of the sign-up process and thereby create strategic and technological solutions that can be used to bring justice to millions more people.

 

4) Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

The way we interact with clients, both directly and indirectly, includes a mix of traditional forms of marketing, such as TV and radio, as well as the use of social media and AI attention algorithms. During the My Diesel Campaign, we adjusted the mix and spend levels daily to create the optimum mix, ensuring the most efficient cost per acquisition possible. TV and radio drive volume, reach, and awareness; and we use digital channels to target those audiences less likely to consume that media.

Pogust Goodhead believes that an increased reliance on technology could change the scope of the group litigation landscape and vastly improve the often-lengthy claim validation process. The developments in our technical capabilities as a firm is testament to this belief. We are unique in being one of the only UK tech-driven law firms and are frontrunners in our use of AI, Chatbots, optimized web pages and marketing, CRM, NetSuite ERP for financials and Google analytics for constant optimisation – all of which allow us to understand our clients better than our market competitors.

 

5) Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

As a boutique litigation firm founded in 2018, the Pogust Goodhead team has already achieved a number of significant victories on behalf of our clients. In 2021, Pogust Goodhead resolved the British Airways Data breach on confidential terms, and in May 2022 we announced a £193 million out of court settlement agreement in the Volkswagen NOx Emissions Group Litigation.

In the previous 12 months, the firm has also secured a stream of jurisdictional victories in a number of our environmental disaster cases. In September 2022, communities lost to damage caused by salt mining in Maceió, Brazil, secured the right to sue petrochemical company, Braskem, in the Dutch courts. Then in October, we were successful once again in securing the jurisdiction of the Dutch courts in our claim against aluminum producer Norsk Hydro.

In June 2023, following a significant victory in July 2022 allowing victims of the Mariana dam disaster to seek redress in the English courts, BHP’s appeal of a decision to fix a trial date for October 2024 was categorically refused. Our claim against BHP, the largest mining company in the world, is made up of over 700,000 clients including individuals, businesses, municipalities, faith-based-institutions, and several indigenous communities. We are working on behalf of our clients to ensure that BHP finally do the right thing and provide adequate compensation to victims for the suffering they have caused.

 

6) Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

We are constantly looking to provide stability and access to justice for our clients in the quickest and most effective manner. As we approach the eighth anniversary of the Mariana dam disaster, BHP have done nothing but cause delay to proceedings and have repeatedly failed to communicate with victims to provide fair and adequate compensation. In the near future, we hope to have settled our case against BHP, which will be a huge milestone for us and the 700,000 clients we represent. Currently valued at £36 billion, a settlement of this size would not only set an important precedent for others operating in this industry, but would also go some of the way to addressing the harm caused by the largest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.

Pogust Goodhead is an industry leader not only in the groundbreaking casework we do, but also through our approach to legal tech and innovative solutions to our clients’ needs. Now backed by major investors, we are in a prime position to continue to seek justice on behalf of our clients, scale our operations around the world, and fight on behalf of individuals affected by corporate wrongdoing.