Litigation

Not many lawyers can claim to have taken on movie mogul George Lucas and won, but that is exactly what SC Andrew name partner Seamus Andrew did in 2011.

Seamus Andrew, SC Andrew

Representing British engineer Andrew Ainsworth in a dispute over Star Wars stormtrooper helmets has been Andrew’s focus since 2004. The fact that Lucas drafted in Brick Court Chambers’ Jonathan Sumption QC to fight the case in the Supreme Court showed just how seriously the film director was taking the case, yet Andrew did not back down. A fierce and nerveless lawyer, Andrew has taken on the toughest litigators out there and refused to back down, earning a reputation for being among the best in the business.

Jules Carey, Tuckers

Long-lauded as a human rights lawyer extraordinaire, Tuckers Solicitors’ Jules Carey has had another stonking year. Head of the firm’s civil liberties and police actions department, Carey acted for the family of Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor who died of a heart attack after being struck by a police officer during the G20 protests in 2009. While the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) initially said no charges would be brought against the officer, Carey’s tenacity convinced an inquest jury to return a verdict of unlawful killing. The CPS reviewed its decision and charged the officer with manslaughter. An outspoken critic of poor policing, Carey also lobbied for the Metropolitan Police to disclose the facts relating to the death of Mark Duggan, whose shooting in August 2011 led to widespread rioting in London and other English cities.

Virginia Cooper, Bevan Brittan

While private practice lawyers often enjoy the luxury of having mammoth teams working on major international cases, the same luxury is not afforded to public sector lawyers working in an age of austerity. Last year, Bevan Brittan’s Virginia Cooper managed a team of five, including herself, as she fought on behalf of 145 local authorities to recover monies lost in the Icelandic banking meltdown. The firm won the case in November, a result of Cooper’s meticulous management skills, practical commercial approach and dogged determination. The amount recovered could top £1bn, which should come in handy as Government cuts continue to bite.

 

Richard East and Sue Prevezer QC, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

No US firm has made more of an impact in its first few years in the UK than Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. The firm launched in London in April 2008 with former Cadwalader litigator and restructuring specialist Richard East at the helm. Former Essex Court Chambers barrister Sue Prevezer QC joined a month later. Since then a relentless schedule of knocking on doors and bashing the phones has seen the pair’s energy and contacts book translate into high-value cases – including the titanic struggle between Prevezer’s client and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Dechert client Michael Cherney – and a succession of big-name hires. The result? A US upstart in the City that now feels as if it’s always been there.

Deborah Finkler, Slaughter and May

When Linklaters was hit with a £115m professional negligence claim by Credit Suisse and subsequently launched its own case against former Italian alliance partner Gianni Origoni Grippo & Partners, it knew it had to call in the big guns. Slaughter and May partner Deborah Finkler was handed the mandate, despite the fact that Linklaters’ insurers had wanted the firm to engage Clyde & Co. Such complex cases involving claim and counterclaim against and between law firms are rare. This one related to advice Credit Suisse received on an investment in a convertible bond issue from Italian food company Parmalat’s Brazilian subsidiary Parmalat Brazil. One of the highest profile litigations of 2011, the matters were brought to an end under Finkler’s expert guidance, with all parties agreeing to settle in October.

Louise Hodges, Kingsley Napley

Kingsley Napley’s Louise Hodges has found her services increasingly in demand as financial regulators crack down on the City’s rogues. Earlier this year she was instructed to represent Kweku Adoboli, the trader charged with fraud and false accounting at Swiss bank UBS, a reflection of her outstanding detailed knowledge of her field. Hodges was also involved in advising on the criminal aspects of the phone-hacking saga at the News of the World and was the lead partner representing a number of military witnesses in the Baha Mousa Public Inquiry. Hodges’ broad knowledge has helped her secure a position as vice-chair of the European Criminal Bar Association and she is regularly called upon to advise countries on national justice policy and proposals.

 

Richard Leedham, Addleshaw Goddard

Two years after taking the reins of Addleshaw Goddard’s disputes department Richard Leedham has proved himself to be one of the smartest movers in the litigation sector. Addleshaws is currently working for Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky in his plethora of multibillion-dollar cases. Leedham is also awaiting judgment in the mammoth £100m Standard Life v ACE European Group trial in which he acted for Standard Life. But the real coup came part-way through the year when he lured Mukhtar Ablyazov as a client to Addleshaws from Stephenson Harwood. The ousted chairman of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank is caught up in major litigation in the UK and decided that for sheer tenacity and ability, he could not do better than Leedham.

 

Mark Lewis, Taylor Hampton

A year ago Taylor Hampton solicitor-advocate Mark Lewis was asking some uncomfortable questions about why the Press Complaints Commission had failed to investigate allegations of phone-hacking at the News of the World (NoW). He represented Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive Gordon Taylor in his dispute with the now defunct tabloid over hacking claims and also for the Dowler family. This led to the explosion of the scandal and some astonishing scenes before the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Oh, and the creation of the Leveson Inquiry. A year on and the NoW is history after the revelation that the murdered Milly Dowler’s phone was hacked. In January Lewis will appear in phone-hacking test trials representing Sheila Henry, mother of 7/7 victim Christian Small. Lewis is a campaigning lawyer who refused to back down when the establishment shrugged him off. His stubbornness has paid dividends.

Anthony Maton, Hausfeld

US firm Hausfeld’s London office has been waving the flag for the class action movement – and in particular, since September 2008, battling against British Airways (BA) in a cartel case – for several years now. The firm is among those leading the way in anti-competitive class actions and, in the face of stiff competition, is building a practice to envy in the City. It is thanks in no small part to former McGrigors partner Anthony Maton, a core part of the firm’s strategic ambition and a champion of consumer rights. Maton, a specialist in competition and financial services litigation, plays a coordinating role for both the UK and US ends of Hausfeld’s practice. And while the BA case proves he might not win them all, his efforts are ensuring that his firm is certainly getting traction.

 

Sylvia Noury, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer partner Sylvia Noury is recognised by her peers as a trailblazer in international arbitration. Her work is mostly low-profile, given the confidential nature of arbitration, but she has represented clients across many sectors in multi-jurisdictional disputes. This has included representing four energy clients in treaty arbitrations with the government of Argentina, leading to four substantial awards against the government, and acting for several mining and other companies in treaty claims against the governments of Bolivia and Venezuela. This, along with her strength as a team player, led to Noury being promoted into the Freshfields partnership last year. A prolific and established market player with strong commercial sense, Noury is on top of her game.

 

Keith Oliver, Peters & Peters

The recession has sparked a renaissance for litigation boutiques and, as senior partner of Peters & Peters, Keith Oliver is leading from the front. Oliver steered the firm from the West End into the City, staying focused on being the best in the business for white-collar crime and civil fraud work. The litigator also fought a long and tense battle with RBS in 2010, representing US businessmen George Gillett and Tom Hicks in their fight for ownership of Liverpool FC. Oliver’s in-demand skills also earned him an instruction representing Formula 1 (F1) tycoon Bernie Ecclestone in UK litigation over the sale of F1 in 2005 from BayernLB to CVC Capital Partners, a deal that has become the subject of intense scrutiny.

Kevin Perry, Edwards Wildman Palmer

Edwards Wildman Palmer partner Kevin Perry had his hands full last year. He became co-chair of the merged firm’s 200-lawyer litigation group and is a heavyweight with a wealth of experience in multi-jurisdictional litigation and international arbitration, and a particular interest in the risk management issues facing corporate clients in relation to how disputes are handled internally. While being busy advising the Ecclestone family trust in a German dispute that involved bribery allegations, he also won a $130m settlement for Tala Steel from a consortium that had walked away from a 10-year contract to source steel from the Teeside plant.

 

Shah Qureshi, Bindmans

Bindmans head of employment Shah Qureshi is a pioneer in the field of discrimination law. Last year he was instructed to represent animal rights campaigner Joe Hashman in a claim that resulted in anti-hunting beliefs being protected from discrimination in the same way as religious beliefs. This followed a win in a major case for environmentalist Tim Nicholson, who claimed he was unfairly dismissed and discriminated against because of his philosophical beliefs about climate change and the environment. In an area of law that is in a constant state of change, lawyers always have be one step ahead of the game. Qureshi, at the cutting edge of discrimination law and a constant champion of human rights, fits that description.

Dan Tench, Olswang

One of the enduring images of 2011 was the appearance of Rupert and James Murdoch before Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee. Sat behind the media moguls, keeping watch and advising News International (NI), was Olswang partner Dan Tench. Tench edged out long-term NI adviser Farrer & Co to win the mandate in July as the phone-hacking scandal exploded. In January he will appear in court alongside Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose to defend a series of hacking test cases, putting him back on the front pages of the national press. Litigating may be his day job, but outside work Tench is an editor of the popular UKSC blog, a website that attempts to decipher Supreme Court judgments. Known for tough talking and shrewd thinking, Tench is at the top of his game as media lawyers face one the most tumultuous periods in their history.

Sarah Webb, Payne Hicks Beach

Payne Hicks Beach partner Sarah Webb has enjoyed a greater slice of the limelight than most in 2011 – expect to see a lot more of her this year. As lawyer to Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator at the heart of the News of the World scandal, Webb is at the epicentre of the phone-hacking storm. Mulcaire is under constant media attention and, while the Murdoch empire appears to be doing all it can to distance itself from him, Webb refuses to go away. Her steely determination saw her take on News International in December, fighting for it to pay Mulcaire’s legal fees as it had previously agreed to. Webb has the required skill-set to succeed in this business – a tough negotiator on a mission.