Awards preview: litigation team of the year
14 June 2004
Carey Olsen and Salans
This Guernsey law firm’s case of the year, Technocom v Rco & Mr K, stands out as a striking example of how a small, offshore practice can handle a global litigation. Alongside Salans partner Smeetesh Kakkad, Careys partner John Greenfield coordinated hearings and trials in countries with massively different legal systems, including Ireland, Panama and Russia. The case also shows the corporate governance clout of the offshore world. Careys not only forced out a director from a Guernsey company, which in turn had significant stakes in Russian telecommunications, but it also made him send a personal note to the company saying he no longer had authority to work for it in the future.
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Led by litigation partner William Robinson, the Freshfields team advised ABNA, a subsidiary of Associated British Foods, and other compound feeding stuff manufacturers on a judicial review and interim relief challenge against an EU directive. In a groundbreaking decision, the High Court of England and Wales, followed by the Scottish Court of Session and the High Court of Northern Ireland, suspended the legislation implementing the directive and referred it to the European Court of Justice. This was the first time a national court has suspended a European Directive. Courts in other European countries swiftly followed the English lead. Truly groundbreaking.
In the history of class actions, none has collapsed quite so decisively thanks to a single tactical move by defence solicitors as this one did in the hands of Hempsons on behalf of client the NHS. Facing massive liabilities for alleged rapes by one of its former gynaecologists Rodney Ledward, a Hempsons team headed by partner John Holmes carried out a simple but decisive counterattack: it demanded an investigation into the claimant lawyers’ costs. Not only did this result in the collapse of the claimants’ case, it also gave rise to a wave of corruption allegations against the claimants’ lawyers, in turn throwing open the issue of costs management by publicly-funded lawyers.
Ince & Co
Badly handled, the sinking of the Prestige, which caused one of the worst pollution disasters of modern times, could have been a public relations, financial and moral disaster for Ince & Co’s clients, the ship’s owners and its insurers. As it stands, although its clients face $5bn (£2.73bn) of unheard claims in the US and 300 claims in Spain, Michael Volikas and Faz Peermohamed’s handling of the disaster has contributed to the introduction of legislation and cultures that have made the seas safer. Examples of these improvements include the UN’s forthcoming ‘places of refuge’ legislation, and EU efforts to relax some countries’ aggressive criminalisation of ship captains whose vessels cause pollution.
The future of the fast-growing Islamic financing industry hung in the balance in Norton Rose’s case of the year, Shamil Bank of Bahrain EC v Beximco Pharmaceuticals & Ors, which concerned unpaid loans. The defendants claimed the Islamic finance contracts were invalid. A defeat would have led to scores of challenges to hundreds of existing Islamic financing schemes. Partner Anthony Dutton relied on a mass of expert evidence to illustrate that the courts’ interpretation of Islamic finance contracts did not need to be overhauled. Furthermore, his victory, through the court’s validation of the loans, saved Shamil Bank from suffering losses of tens of millions of pounds.
Pinsents’ dispute resolution team, under national head Nigel Kissack, has almost doubled its turnover in the last five years to £10.7m. The group’s success (it managed disputes valued at over £4bn last year) is based largely on its ‘reaching solutions’ methodology. It is in the process of seeking to protect the IP rights of an approach it believes is both novel and innovative. Key clients of the group include IMI, Pace Micro Technology and Defra. Recent work included acting for BCCI’s liquidators on various worldwide issues and acting for the defendant in the House of Lords in Dubai Aluminium